Gemmeiza-12 Wheat Resists a Destructive Fungus

Jim Crocker
8th April, 2024

Gemmeiza-12 Wheat Resists a Destructive Fungus

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • Researchers in Egypt found wheat varieties resistant to a harmful fungus, Zymoseptoria tritici
  • The most resistant variety, Gemmeiza-12, showed less fungal spore attachment and prevented spore penetration
  • The resistance in some varieties is linked to a specific resistance gene, Stb6, which is present in Gemmeiza-12
Wheat serves as a staple food for a significant portion of the global population, offering essential nutrients and forming the basis of various food products due to its unique gluten content[2]. However, wheat crops face numerous challenges, including diseases such as Septoria tritici blotch (STB), which is caused by the fungus Zymoseptoria tritici[3]. This disease can devastate wheat production, particularly in temperate regions where conditions are favorable for the pathogen's proliferation. As the threat of climate change looms, there is a risk that Z. tritici could spread into new areas, potentially affecting regions like Egypt that have not previously been impacted. In light of this impending threat, researchers at the University of Birmingham set out to investigate the resilience of Egyptian wheat against Z. tritici[1]. The aim was to identify wheat varieties that exhibit strong resistance to the pathogen and to understand how these varieties fend off the disease. This research is crucial for developing strategies to protect wheat crops against STB, ensuring food security and the agricultural economy. The study began by screening a diverse collection of Egyptian wheat germplasm. Germplasm refers to the genetic material that determines the characteristics of plants. By assessing a wide range of wheat varieties, the researchers hoped to identify those with natural resistance to STB. This step is vital as it sets the stage for breeding programs to develop new wheat varieties that can withstand the disease. The research team employed a comprehensive approach to evaluate the wheat varieties. They exposed the plants to Z. tritici under controlled conditions and observed the infection process. This method allowed them to determine which varieties showed signs of resistance by exhibiting fewer disease symptoms compared to susceptible ones. Previous studies have shown that resistance can occur at different stages of a plant's life, from seedlings to mature plants, and can vary in effectiveness against different strains of a pathogen[3]. Therefore, the researchers likely assessed resistance across various growth stages and against multiple Z. tritici isolates. Once resistant varieties were identified, the team delved deeper to unravel the mechanisms behind the resistance. Understanding these mechanisms is key to ensuring that the resistance is durable and can be effectively utilized in breeding programs. Earlier research on Z. tritici has provided insights into the infection process and the pathogen's biology, which could help identify potential targets for resistance[4]. For example, previous studies have identified quantitative trait loci (QTL), which are specific regions of the genome associated with disease resistance[3]. By comparing the genetic makeup of resistant and susceptible wheat varieties, the Birmingham researchers could have pinpointed QTLs or other genetic factors that contribute to STB resistance. This genetic information is invaluable for breeding efforts, as it allows for the selection of specific genes that confer resistance. Moreover, the research builds upon cell biological studies that have explored how Z. tritici interacts with its host at the cellular level[4]. By combining this knowledge with their findings, the researchers can create a more complete picture of how wheat plants defend themselves against STB. This could lead to the development of wheat varieties that are not only resistant to current strains of Z. tritici but also to future, potentially more virulent strains that may arise due to environmental changes. The outcomes of this study have significant implications for wheat production in Egypt and potentially other regions that could be affected by the spread of Z. tritici. By identifying resistant wheat varieties and the underlying mechanisms of resistance, the research supports the development of effective breeding programs. These programs can produce new wheat varieties that maintain high yields and quality, even in the face of STB, thereby safeguarding a critical food source for millions of people.

AgriculturePlant ScienceMycology


Main Study

1) The Egyptian wheat cultivar Gemmeiza-12 is a source of resistance against the fungus Zymoseptoria tritici

Published 5th April, 2024

Related Studies

3) Identification of Resistance Sources and Genome-Wide Association Mapping of Septoria Tritici Blotch Resistance in Spring Bread Wheat Germplasm of ICARDA.

4) Cell biology of Zymoseptoria tritici: Pathogen cell organization and wheat infection.

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