Scientists are a step closer to protecting durum wheat from Fusarium head blight (FHB).
FHB is a common and destructive disease of wheat and barley that results in yield and grain quality losses. The disease is mainly caused by a species of fungus called Fusarium graminearum.
Scientists have been able to find sources of resistance to this fungus in common wheat plants, but durum wheat, which is especially susceptible to the disease, hasn’t been so fortunate. Now, an international team of scientists from Italy and Iowa State University have pinpointed key differences between the resistant strains of common wheat and the susceptible durum wheat that might account for durum’s weakness against FHB.
The scientists analyzed the cell walls of a resistant wheat variety and a susceptible durum variety. They found an important difference in the composition of the cell walls, and pinpointed a gene that appears to control wheat’s response to Fusarium graminearum. The discovery could help scientists breed durum wheat with resistance to FHB in the future, the scientists noted.
“All these cell wall traits are potential molecular markers useful in plant breeding programs targeted to the selection of wheat varieties with a durable resistance to Fusariosis,” they concluded.
You can see their study here.