The first study testing selection of genomic inbreeding when it comes to resistance has been undertaken, and the results have been published. The deadly disease, caused by a fungus, has spread from Brazil to mainland Africa and is threatening wheat cultivation today. 

Wheat blast is quickly becoming a challenge that is threatening the livelihoods of countless farmers. Unless it is combated quickly, the disease can lead to loss of livelihood for millions of families, especially in Africa and Asia.

We are working on the best ways to eliminate wheat blasts completely. In collaboration with other global players, our plan is first to study wheat blasts and their current prevalence. 

Individual plants are identified using information from different markers. In the case of wheat blasts, the findings help to predict the wheat lines with the potential to give blast resistance in future crosses. They also show which wheat lines can be selected for promotion.

Predicting the wheat lines that will easily withstand wheat blasts is instrumental in overcoming this disease. If farmers plant blast-resistant wheat varieties, there is almost zero risk of the crops getting infected.

Researchers have compared predictions using thousands of genome markers as well as some 2NS-linked markers. 2NS is derived from grass species and was introduced into wheat in the 1980s. It has helped researchers make wide strides towards getting a solution for wheat blasts.

The authors discovered that selection on a few molecular markers from wheat kept 90 percent consistent on-field performance data.

Individual plants for gene interest are identified using information from molecular markers and DNA signposts that are densely scattered throughout the wheat genome. The results for wheat blast can be used to forecast which wheat lines have the potential to give blast resistance in future crossings and which can be promoted to the next generation following selection. 

Moreover, International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center scientist and partners evaluated genomic selection in this study by extensive and precise field data on wheat blast responses with combining genotypic data for three sets of genetically diverse wheat lines and varieties, amounting to more than 700, grown by partners in Bolivia and Bangladesh over several crop cycles.