Durum wheat: quality and resistance

June 12, 2012 at 7:27 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

National research programs throughout North Africa and West Asia – where most of the word’s durum wheat is grown – rely on ICARDA lines and breeding material

ICARDA’s durum wheat program focuses on yield, quality, and resistance to a range of stresses: heat, drought, rust diseases (stem, stripe and leaf rust), Septoria, root rot, Hessian fly and sawfly. Nearly 2000 genotypes are being evaluated in advanced yield trials at Tel Hadya. Some of these genotypes yielded more than 7 t/ha under rainfed conditions (Tel Hadya) and 11 t/ha under irrigation (Egypt). Other trials − 219 genotypes, 50 test sites across the Mediterranean − are evaluating yield and adaptation to different environments.

Three new high-yielding durum varieties were released this season in Algeria, Ethiopia and Turkey. The two Ethiopian varieties are resistant to all three rust diseases. The third variety (Ammar 6, released in Algeria and Turkey) has outstanding grain quality (gluten strength and carotene).

The durum program also includes a major biotechnology component. In collaboration with INRA-Morocco and Rothamsted-UK, novel genes for Hessian fly resistance were identified (surprisingly, from a susceptible variety) using the TILLING technique. Research on salt and drought tolerance, in partnership with Tuscia University in Italy, focused on DREB (Dehydration Responsive Element Binding Factor) genes. Allelic variants of DREB genes were detected in several ICARDA durum lines. In addition, SNPs (Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms) were identified in a highly salt-tolerant durum line. These discoveries will help to understand the mechanisms through which durum plants respond to drought and salt stresses; and to develop new primers for marker-assisted selection.

For more information contact Dr Miloudi Nachit, durum wheat breeder, email M.Nachit@cgiar.org

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