A western American pasture grass crossed with wheat can improve resistance to a fungus that can be toxic to plants, animals and people, according to Purdue University researchers.
Both wheat plants displayed by Purdue agronomy professor Herb Ohm have been infected with Fusarium head blight, or wheat scab. The plant on the left was crossed with a pasture grass to create a high level of resistance to the fungus, which is one of the primary diseases affecting wheat production. (Agricultural Communications photo/Tom Campbell)
Resistance genes in the grass that replaced genes in wheat increased protection against Fusarium head blight, or wheat scab, the scientists said. In the December issue of the journal Theoretical and Applied Genetics the researchers also report that they located and mapped the small bits of DNA, or markers, associated with the resistance gene in the grass, called tall wheatgrass.
"In the past 10 or 15 years, the fungus Fusarium graminearum has emerged as one of the diseases of primary concern in wheat," said Herb Ohm, Purdue agronomy professor. "This is because the widespread practice of reduced tillage in fields provides a perfect environment for growth of the fungus."
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