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Newly found gene resistant to economically crippling wheat disease

reviously, Goodwin said.

Several of the previously found genes conferred resistance on bread wheat plants for only a few years - up to about 15 years. Stb8 has genetic characteristics that may allow it to be effective for a much longer period of time, Goodwin said.

The genome containing Stb8 originated from a pasta wheat parent, which is resistant to most strains of the fungus. This may extend the usefulness of the resistance gene for bread wheat.

The specific location of Stb8 on the genome is different than all the previously known resistance genes for wheat blotch. This site should allow Stb8 to be combined with other genes that also offer some protection against the disease, thereby increasing plants' resistance.

Stb8 and its markers are naturally occurring in wheat lines already in use, so they can be used immediately for farmers' breeding programs to gain protection against leaf blotch, Goodwin said.

The long-term goal of the research of leaf blotch resistance genes is to learn about the molecular pathways that allow the plants to respond to pathogens, he said.

"If we can understand these biochemical processes that lead to resistance, then in the future we may learn how to modify them to make these genes more durable," Goodwin said.

Though different resistance genes seem to work more effectively in different parts of the world, the pathogen is easily spread, especially in today's world of fast transportation. The fungus is spread and grows by spores and it can survive in dried leaves for a very long time, Goodwin said.

"We even store them that way, sometimes for years," he said. "If you keep the leaf dry, it won't decay and the pathogen just sits there. Or you can freeze it at -80 C, thaw it, and then spray it with water - it will start growing."

Leaf blotch doesn't kill plants, but it weakens them sufficiently to cause significant crop loss. Purdue scientists determined resistance to the f
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Contact: Susan A. Steeves
ssteeves@purdue.edu
765-496-7481
Purdue University
20-Aug-2003


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