Seed World

Powdery Mildew-Resistant Wheat Cultivar Developed

Microscopic view of a wheat seed.

Minnesota’s Calyxt, Inc. has produced a wheat cultivar using the Talen gene editing technology. The new cultivar is claimed to be resistant to powdery mildew, a foliar disease of wheat that is a challenge to wheat grown in moist environments.
With the cultivar’s new resistance to the disease, farmers’ need to apply costly chemical fungicides will be potentially reduced or eliminated, saving farmers profitability and time, as well as increasing their wheat quality. According to Calyxt, Inc., the environmental and consumer health benefits are the result of the modification of one native gene, resulting in a natural-derived resistance to the fungal pathogens that cause powdery mildew disease.
Because it does not change the wheat’s basic biology or composition, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has determined that this wheat is not regulated under 7 CFR Part 340 and can be commercialized without further oversight. That means this cultivar is NOT considered developed through biotechnology.
With this determination, the new variety is not subject to USDA regulations under the Plant Protection Act. NAWG is very supportive of plant innovations that will provide U.S. wheat growers the opportunity to become world leaders in wheat innovation, gain tools to increase their productivity and profitability, and encourage the development of new and better technologies.