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Grass & Grain 2-9-16

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By Julia Debes Researchers are looking for wheat genes that will provide additional resistance to wheat streak mosaic virus, thanks to funding from the Kansas Wheat Alliance. Yield loss due to wheat streak mosaic virus equaled more than 4.25 million bushels in the 2013 Kansas wheat crop alone, adding up to a $32.6 million economic impact. Wheat streak mosaic virus flies on the Kansas wind from one wheat field to another – courtesy of its host, the wheat curl mite. As the mites feed on wheat, wild grasses like foxtail, and other plants, they spread the virus from one field to an- other. The Kansas wheat crop does not have sufficient pro- tection to avoid yield loss due to the virus's infection. That may soon change as Dr. Guorong Zhang, Kansas State University wheat breeder, is leading this re- search with his team at the K-State Agricultural Re- search Center in Hays. K-State agronomist Jeanne Falk-Jones compares the wheat streak mosaic virus to the flu virus in hu- mans. "It is the toughest on the young because they have a harder time fighting off the virus," she said. "In addition, there is no medicine or treat- ment to cure the virus. Wheat that is stressed will be more susceptible to severe symptoms. This includes stress from drought, lack of nutrients, or poor growing conditions. " Known Resistance Exists Three current genes are known to have wheat streak mosaic virus resistance, re- ferred to by number: Wsm1,Wsm2 and Wsm3. Of these three genes, only one is found in conventional wheat - Wsm2. The other two genes come from a wild wheat relative, Thinopyrum intermedium. This Wsm2 gene is im- portant because wheat breeders start by using genes from wheat before exploring the complicated introduc- tions of genes from other wheat relatives. Four existing wheat vari- eties include the Wsm2 gene: RonL, Snowmass, Oakley CL and Clara CL. But, as Zhang pointed out, all these resistant varieties have the same resistance source. As a result, if the virus evolves under selection pres- sure and breaks down this re- sistance, then all the current- ly-resistant varieties would become susceptible. There- fore, it is necessary to ex- plore new resistant sources and discover new resistance genes, which researchers can then introduce into new vari- eties or stack with Wsm2 to make the resistance more durable. The Challenge of Finding New Resistance Genes To find new resistance genes for K-State wheat va- rieties, Zhang and his team are testing 20 new resistant plant introductions (13 from winter-type wheats and seven from spring-type wheats). These have been se- lected from more than 3,000 germplasm lines, to try and identify if any of these vari- eties has a gene for wheat streak mosaic resistance other than Wsm2. Among the 13 winter- type wheat lines, Zhang and his team have found two lines that may contain a gene different from Wsm2. They have initiated the process to introduce these two resist- ance sources into their elite breeding lines, which should introduce another barrier for the wheat streak mosaic virus. Zhang is continuing the search for other unique genes with virus resistance in the seven spring-type re- sistant sources. His initial testing shows great promise for one line that might have a different resistance gene than Wsm2. Early indica- tions are that the resistance gene in this line should be located in a different genom- ic region than Wsm2, which would provide a more durable resistance to wheat streak mosaic virus when stacked with Wsm2. Zhang's team is continuing to work on this line to identify its lo- cation within the wheat genome and its linked mo- lecular markers. While the search contin- ues, Zhang's team is zeroing in on this new resistance gene. In the near future, this new gene will be introduced into elite breeding lines and be stacked with Wsm2 or other resistance genes. As a result of this Kansas Wheat Alliance-funded re- search, Kansas farmers will have more protection of wheat crop yield potential thanks to more durable re- sistance to wheat streak mo- saic virus. By Donna Sullivan, Editor For Ramona rancher Tracy Brunner, there's plen- ty to be optimistic about in the beef industry. As he takes the helm of the National Cat- tlemen's Beef Association as its newly elected president, he hopes to build on the cur- rent strength of the beef in- dustry, both domestically and abroad. "The beef industry today is in a wonderful position," he said. "We have strong do- mestic demand for beef. We have growing global demand as well, and both are impor- tant as we transition to larger supplies in the years ahead." The fourth-generation cattleman was elected to suc- ceed outgoing president Phillip Ellis at the 2016 Cat- tle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show in San Diego January 30, where 6,700 cattle producers gath- ered to share input on grass- roots policy issues and listen to industry experts. Emphasizing that he never sees the glass as below half-full, Brunner welcomes challenges and sees them as an opportunity for growth. "We know our challenges will continually evolve; those challenges bring op- portunity and opportunity is what makes the industry's future so bright," he said. One of those challenges will be to meet the growing demand for beef, but Brun- ner believes the industry is up to the task. "I believe global demand will probably grow even faster than global beef supplies can keep up," he said. "We have the bright- est of futures based on a very high quality product that people like to enjoy. And we have a great crop of young beef men and women who are continually improving the industry as well." His leadership style is one of anticipating positive re- sults and communicating that to those he works with. "We all achieve the most when we pursue our goals with expected success," he explained. The focus of his immedi- ate attention will be to con- tinue to push back on the Waters of the U.S. rule and he would also like to see the Endangered Species Act, and the impact it has on farmers and ranchers, re-examined. Brunner's family opera- tion, Cow Camp Ranch in Lost Springs and Cow Camp Feed Yard in Ramona, spe- cializes in breeding Sim- mental and SimAngus bulls and custom feeding and mar- keting cattle. While theirs is a rich history, Brunner be- lieves the industry offers plenty of potential for those just getting started. "I appreciate the beef in- dustry the most for its oppor- tunity," he said. "We speak a lot about family and heritage and generations, which is only right. But what really is important about cattle and beef is the inherent opportu- nity and room for all sizes, ages and business plans. Young farmers and ranchers of today are smarter, not afraid of hard work and new technology savvy. Young people who stay in cattle for the long haul are going to re- ally enjoy the next fifty years. And no better place for cattle and beef than Kansas." Tracy Brunner was elected president of NCBA at their annual convention and trade show January 30. Courtesy photo Brunner elected president of National Cattlemen's Beef Association A winter sunset Grain bins, boots on a fence and a spectacular sunset make for a perfect Kansas winter scene. Photo by Kevin Macy The search is on for new wheat streak mosaic virus resistance This photo shows wheat streak mosaic virus, which had an economic impact of $32.6 on the 2013 Kansas wheat crop. Photo by Jeanne Falk Jones, K-State Research and Extension 2-9-16 Sect. 1.2.qxp #2:Layout 1 2/4/16 1:33 PM Page 1

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