K-State and Bayer working to improve hybrid wheat

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Bayer CropScience has signed a wheat germplasm and technology license agreement with Kansas State University (K-State) to promote the further improvement and development of hybrid wheat production through research and education.

K-State’s Wheat Genetic Resource Center (WGRC) will collaborate with Bayer CropScience to develop hybrid wheat.

“Hybrid wheat is a difficult technical challenge, but the payoff will be in a substantial potential for increased yields for growers,” said Ernie Minton, associate director of research for K-State Research and Extension.

WGRC will help identify traits that are potentially useful for hybrid wheat production and that are naturally available in their extensive collection of grass species which are closely related to cultivated wheat. Bayer CropScience will work with K-State researchers and scientists to develop a trait discovery pipeline for efficient hybrid wheat crop production using K-State’s unique genetic stocks.

“Wheat is an ancient crop that has gone through much change and continues to undergo change. With this agreement, our expertise in wheat genetics and genomics, combined with Bayer’s global expertise and wheat leadership, will help one of the world’s most important crops to advance,” said John Floros, dean of the College of Agriculture and director of K-State Research and Extension.

The agreement allows Bayer CropScience to license K-State’s germplasm and related intellectual property rights.

“We collaborate worldwide with leading institutions and universities for seeds and traits, which is especially vital to our wheat strategy,” said Rick Turner, global head wheat & oilseed seeds. “This agreement with Kansas State University gives us access to some of the best solutions available to support our research and innovation goals in cereals, and this is clearly a win-win for both the university and Bayer CropScience.”

As part of the collaboration, K-State also will establish an endowed chair for wheat genetics research and breeding. The endowed chair will be named for Bikram Gill, university distinguished professor of plant pathology and director of the Wheat Genetic Resource Center, whose career and life’s work has been worldwide wheat genetic improvement and distributing its genetic value to the world.

“Bikram Gill is the world’s foremost expert on wheat genetics and genomics. He has had an impact on modern wheat production, not only as a crop in the United States, but as a staple source of cereal-based calories for the entire planet,” Floros said. “Through his leadership, the contributions of the Wheat Genetic Resource Center has likely impacted every key wheat breeding program in the United States and worldwide. He has done so much to help the world.”

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