UC Davis team identifies wheat gene that increases yield

A team of scientists from the University of California, Davis, have identified a new gene in wheat that can increase grain production. The discovery could help growers produce more wheat without additional resources or expanding operations.

The researchers found WAPO1 gene that controls the maximum number of grains in a wheat spike. WAPO1 is one of the first wheat genes discovered to affect the crop’s yield. Breeding the beneficial gene into plants delays the formation of the terminal spikelet, providing room for more grains to grow in each spike rather than ending grain production.

The team found that WAPO1 is present in bread wheats but not in pasta wheats. By breeding the beneficial gene variant into those pasta wheat varieties, growers could increase yield by 4% to 5% in cultivars that have the biomass capacity to fill the extra grains.

Kuzay et al. 2022 WAPO-A1 is the causal gene of the 7AL QTL for spikelet number per spike in wheat.  PLoS Genet 18(1): e1009747, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1009747

Source: Crop Biotech Update

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