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Webinar: How a wheat disease resistance gene atlas could lift up wheat breeding

How a wheat disease resistance gene atlas could lift up wheat breeding
On 06 May 2021, the IWGSC organized a webinar entitled “How a wheat disease resistance gene atlas could lift up wheat breeding” presented by Amber Hafeez (John Innes Centre, UK)


Worldwide, a fifth of wheat (Triticum aestivum) yields, around 209 million tonnes each year, is lost to pests and diseases (Savary et al., 2019). This loss could be minimized and our reliance on chemical controls reduced through the use of durable and broad-spectrum genetic resistance. Disease resistance (R) gene cloning in wheat has been accelerated by the recent surge of genomic resources; however, with the challenges of population growth and climate change ahead of us, it is vital not only to clone and functionally characterize a few handfuls R genes, but to do so at an agroecologically relevant scale. This would provide breeders with the tools and resources necessary to respond to virulence changes in pathogen populations as quickly as possible.
To meet this challenge, we propose the creation of a wheat R gene atlas by an international community of researchers and breeders. The atlas would take the form of an online directory from which sources of resistance could be identified and deployed to achieve more durable resistance to major wheat pathogens. We present a costed proposal detailing how the interacting molecular components governing disease resistance could be captured from both the host and pathogen. We explore options for the effective configuration and genotyping of diversity panels of hexaploid and tetraploid wheat, as well as their wild relatives and major pathogens.
Finally, we discuss how the atlas could inform a dynamic, durable approach to R gene deployment, and routes to preventing the squandering of finite genetic resources through gene stewardship. This endeavor presents one approach to bringing R genes from the lab to the field at a considerable speed and quantity.


Amber Hafeez, John Innes Centre, UK



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