Genetic diversity for wheat improvement
Wild relatives of crops are an important source of genetic diversity that can be used for crop improvement. Scientists at the John Innes Centre on the Norwich Research Park are working with Sharon goatgrass (Aegilops sharonensis), a wild grass from Israel, where wheat was domesticated 10,000 years ago. Genes in Sharon goatgrass have been identified that are resistant against new supervirulent isolates of the wheat stem rust fungus, which has recently devastated wheat production in parts of Africa. The transfer of these genes into bread wheat will reduce the threat of crop failure caused by stem rust.