Prof. Ian Small (L) and Dr Joanna Me
Original Published Date: 
Thursday, February 18, 2021

Full article issued by The University of Western Australia.

A new study, led by ARC-supported researchers from The University of Western Australia and scientists and expert plant breeders from Limagrain, is set to revolutionise the future of wheat production, with three genes identified that will enable the breeding of hybrid wheat crops that promise higher yields and better disease and environmental tolerance.

Lead author Dr Joanna Melonek, from the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology and UWA’s School of Molecular Sciences, said the scientists had made the critical finding of two Restorer of fertility (Rf) genes – known as Rf1 and Rf3 – responsible for reversing sterility in wheat by switching on pollen production.

'Together with colleagues from Limagrain we have identified Rf1 and Rf3, the two major genes in wheat that restore pollen production in sterile wheat plants,' Dr Melonek said.

This new understanding of the genetic basis of sterility and fertility-restoration in wheat will drive the development of effective hybrid production systems and be valuable to wheat breeding companies keen to develop new hybrid varieties.

Photo credit: 

Professor Ian Small (L) and Dr Joanna Melonek with hybrid wheat in the laboratory. Credit: The ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology.