JERUSALEM, March 17 (Xinhua) -- Israeli researchers have created an improved modern wheat variety, by adding it a gene segment of wild wheat, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HUJI) said on Wednesday.
In this way, the researchers restored modern wheat to essential traits that were lost in the domestication process thousands of years ago, thus making it more resistant to climate changes and extremely dry conditions.
The lost traits include anatomical and physiological ones related to the root system, with a dramatic effect on the plant's water balance and its ability to cope with changing climatic conditions.
In a study published in the journal Plant, Cell and Environment, HUJI researchers hybridized wild and cultured wheat, aiming to restore lost vital traits.
By combining a comprehensive characterization of the root system and genetic sequencing, the team identified the wild wheat's genomic areas that contribute to the lost traits.
Then, the introduction of these areas into modern wheat varieties has improved the efficiency of water transfer through the roots.
In a field test of the new variety, the researchers demonstrated its water-saving feature that resulted in a significant improvement in yield under dry conditions.
"Our study demonstrated the great potential of wild wheat for reshaping wheat roots," the researchers said.
"The results may enable the cultivation of wheat varieties to adapt to the changing climatic conditions and ensure the continued production of seeds and food security for the rapidly growing world population," they concluded. Enditem