Science News

Salt-tolerant wheat

Sat, 12th May 2012

Kat Arney

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Writing in the journal Nature Biotechnology, scientists in Australia have bred a new strain of salt-tolerant wheat, by crossing in a gene from a more ancient strain of the plant with a higher tolerance for salt. Around 20% of agricultural land around the world is affected by high saltiness, or salinity - which can seriously affect plant growth - and it’s only getting worse as the climate changes. At the moment, the researchers have tested the gene in durum wheat, used to make pasta and couscous, and they hope to cross it into bread wheat next. Importantly, they didn’t use GM techniques to get the gene into the wheat, so they’re hoping this will speed up the process of testing and commercialisation.

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