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Genes in wheat relatives help stave off stem rust

Wild and obscure species provide resistance to deadly fungus

By
4:23pm, June 27, 2013

A scrappy, ancient species of wheat may help today’s widely cultivated bread wheat fight the devastating fungus known as stem rust (shown growing on wheat stems).

A gene isolated from one of the earliest cultivated wheat species, Einkorn wheat (Triticum monococcum), confers resistance to a deadly version of stem rust, scientists report June 27 in Science. A second gene found in the wild grass Aegilops tauschii, a botanical parent of today’s bread wheat (T. aestivum), also helps bread wheat fight the fungus, another research team reports. 

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