An Integrated Approach for Enhancing Fusarium Head Blight Resistance in Durum
The Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture has identified Fusarium head blight (FHB) as a significant threat to the production and export of Canada Western Amber Durum. In collaboration with the Saskatchewan’s Agriculture Development Fund and the Saskatchewan Wheat Commission, Genome Prairie has selected the identification of new sources of FHB resistance and the development of germplasm with stacked resistance genes as a key strategic opportunity. Canada Western Amber Durum is the second largest class of wheat grown in Canada at 15 per cent of the acreage, with approximately 6.0 million acres grown in 2016. FHB has become widespread in the durum wheat (Triticum turgidum L. ssp. durum) growing region of Western Canada. FHB damage is detrimental because it reduces grain yield and grade. The annual losses attributed to FHB for Saskatchewan farmers reaches up to hundreds of millions of dollars in epidemic years such as 2016. Modern genetic techniques allow resistance genes to be mapped to regions of chromosomes and for the development of tightly associated markers. Sources of resistance to FHB have been identified through screening breeding lines and landraces of durum wheat from gene bank and international collaborators. The mapping of these various sources of resistance and the development of breeder friendly markers will allow for systematically stacking the resistance genes in a common background. By improving durum genetic resistance to FHB and DON, wheat processors will meet international food safety standards for consumers, thus stabilizing profitability and sustainability of the durum industry, as well as Canada’s position in the international grain trade.