Looking for new genes for resistance to wheat stem sawflies
Weaver suggested that losses in grain weight due to feeding by the larvae might be quite a bit greater.
“It is certainly more insidious because growers can’t see how much of the crop’s potential has been stolen, whereas stems on the ground are very obvious,” Weaver said.
The larvae live inside the wheat stubble during the fall and winter. In the spring, adults emerge from the stem, and the cycle continues.
Finding new resistant genes will be harder than detecting the gene tied to solid stems, but with new advances in molecular genetics, the outlook is promising, Talbert said. Weaver added that the new resistance targets for wheat stem sawfly should include everything from influencing female choices in laying eggs through compounds that kill the growing larvae.
Whatever the outcome, Talbert said he hoped the new project will have the same long-lasting impact as its predecessor.
“The previous wheat breeding community’s discovery of solid stems has saved growers many millions of dollars over the past several decades,” Talbert said. “It’s our goal to leave a similar legacy – identify new genes for resistance that will be equally useful in the future.”
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