New innovation in agriculture
ANOTHER new innovation has been added in agriculture to combat wheat rust disease in order to increase the productivity. Every year, a large number of farmers cultivate wheat as the second biggest food crop in our country. In addition to agronomic adaptability, wheat offers ease of grain storage and ease of converting grain into flour for making edible, palatable, food. Wheat is the most important source of carbohydrate in a majority of countries including Bangladesh. But due to crop disease, the yield is drastically decreasing every year. A new race of a wheat disease, called stem rust Ug99, has been spreading since 1999, threatening important wheat production areas of the world .This international wheat disease has often encouraged farmers in our country to change to other crops. Naturally, in wheat, phenolic compounds are mainly found in the form of insoluble bound ferulic acid and relevant to resistance to wheat fungal diseases.
It is a matter of delight that recently scientists have found a gene in wild wheat that could make commercial wheat varieties resistant to a new strain of stem rust. The stem rust disease is producing large wheat yield losses throughout Africa and Asia and threatening global food security. By transferring this gene to commercial wheat varieties, wheat breeders will have is a distinct advantage in controlling the epidemic. The study identifies a gene called Sr35 that confers near-immunity to this new variety, the researchers say. Ug99, named for the country of Uganda and the year the new race was discovered, appears on wheat as small red growths, dotted across the stems and leaves. About 90 per cent of the wheat varieties grown worldwide are susceptible to Ug99.
Previous resistance genes that had proven effective for fighting the disease for 50 years are ineffective against this new race. Scientists are now looking for new sources of resistance to protect the global wheat crop, which millions of people depend on for food. This discovery opens the door for biotechnological approaches to fight this devastating disease. The challenge now is to identify which combination of resistance genes can deliver a more durable resistance against the disease.
The study is part of the Borlaug Global Rust Initiative, a five-year effort funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to coordinate international efforts in fighting Ug99. It is supported by the US Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Additional researchers from UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences, the USDA-ARS Cereal Disease Laboratory, and Kansas State University also contributed to the study.
The successful extension of this innovation may bring more light in the production of wheat in the world. I hope the respective authorities in our country will keep their sincere efforts to distribute this new race of wheat among the cultivators with a view to increasing production.
Sheikh Mohammed Mamur Rashid
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