A Boost from Wild Wheat

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Science  12 Oct 2007:
Vol. 318, Issue 5848, pp. 171
DOI: 10.1126/science.318.5848.171c

Nitrification, a microbial process that generates nitrate in the rhizosphere through the biological oxidation of ammonia with oxygen, deleteriously affects the availability of soil nitrogen to plants and is a major agricultural concern, as approximately one-third of fertilizer nitrogen is lost in this manner. Subbarao et al. report a potentially powerful strategy to reduce nitrification in cultivated wheat. A wild relative of wheat, Leymus racemosus, releases biological nitrification inhibitors that dramatically reduce nitrification in the root rhizosphere in comparison to domesticated wheat. When a Leymus chromosome containing the relevant gene(s) was introduced into wheat, biological nitrification inhibitors were also produced, and productivity increased. New strains of wheat can now be bred to transfer this trait stably into the domesticated wheat genome. — LMZ

Plant Soil 10.1007/s11104-007-9360-z (2007).

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