Algorithm developed for fast identification of disease-resistant crop genes

Signal of change / Algorithm developed for fast identification of disease-resistant crop genes

By Jennifer Revell / 25 Mar 2019

Researchers have developed a new method for cheap and fast identification of disease-resistant genes in crops.

Diseases that threaten crops such as wheat, soyabean, maize, rice and potato, which form the vast bulk of cereals in the human diet can now be tackled using an algorithm that enables scientists to quickly scan a library of disease resistance genes and find functional resistant genes.

Dr Brande Wulff, a crop genetics project leader at the John Innes Centre and a lead author of the study, said: "We have perfected the method so that we can clone these genes in a matter of months and for just thousands of dollars instead of millions."

The technique hopes to revolutionise the development of disease-resistant varieties for the global food supply.


So what?

The development of disease-resistant varieties of domestic crops could offer some security to the food industry, in a context of rising antibiotic resistance.

Farmers livelihoods can be threatened by pathogens that wipe out harvests. In areas where agriculture is a large source of employment, crop-disease can affect entire communities. By limiting this threat, farmers and agricultural communities can thrive.

As the population is set to reach 9 billion by 2050, world leaders are searching for solutions to feed the globe. Developments such as this suggest that we have the technology to maximise yields and produce enough food for the expanding population.

Additionally, the resources saved by this method can go towards other issues facing sustainable nutrition.


What might the implications of this be? What related signals of change have you seen?

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