Good news for plant breeders across the world. You can now breed more effective rust resistant wheat varieties! A DNA marker for two key rust resistance genes — Lr34 and Yr18 — is discovered recently.
These two genes are inherited together to breed wheat plants that are capable of protecting against leaf rust and stripe rust more effectively. These are the two major diseases of wheat not only in Australia, but also worldwide.
Though, various rust resistant-types have been bred into Australian varieties, all work against a specific rust species and in some cases are only effective against a limited range of rust strains.
CSIRO Plant Industry scientist, Dr Evans Lagudah said,
We have identified a ‘DNA marker’ that is 99 per cent effective in flagging the presence of Lr34 and Yr18, which provide resistance against different species and strains of rust.
This means that breeders can track the presence of this rust resistance through a simple DNA test. If the marker is present then it’s almost guaranteed Lr34 / Yr18 will be too.
Wheat plants containing the Lr34 / Yr18 gene-combination also experience slower rates of rust infection, which prevents widespread and rapid increase of rust spores. This eventually reduces the potential for disease epidemics throughout the crop.