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2-Plants: Non-GE sawfly resistant wheat launched in Canada

-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  New "Lillian" wheat offers best of both worlds for farmers in the
        sawfly zone
SOURCE: Western Grains Research Foundation, Canada
        edited and sent by AGNET, Canada
DATE:   14 Sep 2004 

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New "Lillian" wheat offers best of both worlds for farmers in the sawfly zone

Saskatoon, Sask. -- Sawfly resistance may be what draws western Canadian
wheat growers to the new wheat AC Lillian, but the variety's strong
overall performance is what will keep them coming back for more, says
wheat breeder Dr. Ron DePauw of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's (AAFC)
Semiarid Prairie Agricultural Research Centre (SPARC) in Swift Current.

AC Lillian is the latest in a series of wheat varieties developed to
battle the wheat stem sawfly, which has emerged to become the top pest of
wheat in the western Prairies. But unlike its predecessors, which lagged
behind other varieties in field performance, AC Lillian meets high
standards for yield potential, protein and disease resistance.

The variety, expected to become widely available in 2005, was developed
in part with farmer support through the Wheat Check-off Fund administered
by Western Grains Research Foundation (WGRF).

"AC Lillian will be a welcome variety to Prairie farmers battling the
recent rise in wheat stem sawfly infestations," says DePauw. "We
anticipate strong demand next year."

Current varieties with greater sawfly-resistance have some drawbacks,
DePauw explains. Under some conditions, AC Abbey produces up to 0.8
percent lower protein than newer wheat varieties, while older varieties
with sawfly resistance, such as AC Eatonia, may carry a yield penalty.
"AC Lillian is representative of the new sawfly-resistant lines under
development, which feature stem solidness with a better overall agronomic
and quality package."

Along with DePauw, the major research effort to breed sawfly-resistant
wheat varieties is led by SPARC colleague Dr. Fran Clarke and Dr. Taing
Aung of the AAFC Cereal Research Centre in Winnipeg.

The key trait these researchers aim for is greater stem solidness, which
is known to reduce sawfly damage, says DePauw. Female sawfly insert their
eggs into the hollow stem of the wheat plant. When larvae develop, they
feed on the stem and make it susceptible to weakening and falling over.
Wheat with higher stem solidness reduces the sawfly population by
narrowing the space for egg laying, development and movement through the
stems. Recent studies also show stem solidness reduces the winter
survival of larvae and results in reduced fertility among female sawfly
the following spring.

Compared to AC Abbey, AC Lillian features eight percent higher yield
potential, 0.7 percent more protein, improved resistance to leaf rust and
increased resistance to leaf spotting diseases. It also expresses very
good drought tolerance as it yielded four percent more gain and 0.2
percent more protein than AC Superb under the hot dry conditions of 2003
in Saskatchewan. AC Lillian is also resistant to loose smut and shows
moderate resistance to common bunt.

 It also grows well outside the main sawfly risk area," says DePauw.

The AAFC sawfly resistance breeding effort is also supported by the
Federal Matching Investment Initiative Fund. Western Grains Research
Foundation is the largest grains research funding organization for
farmers in Western Canada. It is funded and directed by producers, who
allocate approximately $5 million annually to research through the Wheat
and Barley Check-off Funds, and the Endowment Fund.


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