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RESEARCH ▶▶▶


Resistance gene makes wheat more resistant to Septoria


Researchers have introduced a gene in wheat to make the crop resistant to Septoria.


JAN ENGWERDA, EDITOR OF BOERDERIJ P


lant breeding is becoming an increasingly more im- portant tool in the fight against pests and diseases as other crop protection products are under pres- sure. An international group of researchers has tak-


en a major step forward in this regard for wheat cultivation by describing a resistance gene (Stb16q) and incorporating it into wheat. The researchers found that, due to the introduc- tion of this gene, the crop became resistant to leaf spot dis- ease, otherwise known as Septoria. This makes it much easier for companies to cross-breed the resistance gene into their wheat varieties via traditional breeding.


Resistance gene Stb6 Wageningen University & Research (WUR) is part of the re- search group. A resistance gene which makes wheat resistant to Septoria was already identified in 2011, says WUR research- er Ger Kema. “We are referring to the resistance gene Stb6. This gene is found in many wheat varieties, but only offers pro- tection against a limited number of isolates of Zomoseptoria tritici, the fungus which causes leaf spot disease.”


Great practical value Resistance gene Stb16q is different, says Kema. “This gene of- fers the wheat plant much broader resistance to Septoria. The international consortium has successfully introduced the Stb16q gene into wheat. I don’t want to refer to this as a breakthrough, but it does have great practical value, as the gene is now fairly easy to incorporate into commercial wheat varieties through breeding. As a result, growers will suffer less crop losses in future and will require fewer crop protection products. However, the fact that this is a broad-acting resist- ance gene says nothing about how difficult it is for the fungus to break through the resistance.”


Mould pressure is increasing Fungal diseases in wheat thrive in wet weather, and climate change will increase the fungal pressure in certain regions of the world, making the steps the consortium has been able to take very significant. The group consists of the following research institutes: Wageningen UR; the US Department of Agri culture (USDA); ETH-Zurich University of Applied Sciences; and plant breeding company Florimond Desprez.


Septoria is a fungal disease in wheat. Worldwide, nearly € 1 billion is spent every year on fungicides to combat it.


18 ▶ ALL ABOUT FEED | Volume 29, No. 1, 2021


Hundreds of millions in damages Septoria is the third most damaging wheat disease world- wide, after rust and fusarium. Wageningen UR estimates that 5% to 10% of the wheat harvest in Europe is lost annually due to leaf spot disease. Worldwide, nearly € 1 billion is spent on fungicides every year to control Septoria in wheat and in France the fungal disease costs the wheat sector between € 350 million and € 700 million annually.


PHOTO: BCS


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