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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Jun 9;106(23):9519-24. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0904152106. Epub 2009 May 26.

Unlocking wheat genetic resources for the molecular identification of previously undescribed functional alleles at the Pm3 resistance locus.

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  • 1Institute of Plant Biology, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.


The continuous improvement of crop plants is essential for agriculture in the coming decades and relies on the use of genetic variability through breeding. However, domestication and modern breeding have reduced diversity in the crop germplasm. Global gene banks conserve diversity, but these resources remain underexplored owing to a lack of efficient strategies to isolate important alleles. Here we describe a large-scale allele-mining project at the molecular level. We first selected a set of 1,320 bread wheat landraces from a database of 16,089 accessions, using the focused identification of germplasm strategy. On the basis of a hierarchical selection procedure on this set, we then isolated 7 resistance alleles of the powdery mildew resistance gene Pm3, doubling the known functional allelic diversity at this locus. This targeted approach for molecular utilization of gene bank accessions reveals landraces as a rich resource of new functional alleles. This strategy can be implemented for other studies on the molecular diversity of agriculturally important genes, as well as for molecular breeding.

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