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Nearly 40% of the world's arable land is too acidic to grow wheat, mainly because of high aluminum levels in the soil.

Nearly 40% of the world's arable land is too acidic to grow wheat, mainly because of high aluminum levels in the soil. But geneticists hope to make wheat more aluminum-tolerant by using a gene from rye, a cousin of wheat. Scientists discovered the Alt3 gene in rye several years ago. Alt3 makes rye tolerant to aluminum, which is usually found just below the topsoil. The researchers physically mapped the rye gene, so it could be transferred into wheat by marker- assisted selection and breeding. A complete DNA sequence and gene map of rice was established. Since many of the genes in rye and rice are in the same order, finding exactly where the aluminum-tolerance candidate gene is in the rice genome may help researchers find its location in rye. Investigators were able to narrow the gene's location to a tiny region in rice, but they have not been able to utilize the rice DNA sequence to find the Alt3 gene in rye. The research, however, was not in vain. They found that rice is a great source of DNA markers that can be used to map the rye genome. Scientists may be able to use the rice DNA sequence information to identify genes in other cereals that can improve grain quality or naturally protect the crop against diseases. Contact: J Perry Gustafson, USDA-ARS Plant Genetics Research, Room 206, Curtis Hall, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211. Phone: 573-882-7318. Fax: 573-884-7850. Email:
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Title Annotation:Executives: FYI ...
Publication:Emerging Food R&D Report
Date:Apr 1, 2005
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