Thursday, January 11, 2007

Wheat Protects Self from Insects

Researchers at the USDA and Purdue University have discovered a gene in wheat that produces proteins that attack the stomach lining of Hessian flies, causing them to starve to death.

By killing the parasites, causes catastrophic losses if not controlled. Protection against Hessian flies will allow greater crop yields, which is good news for farmers and for countries with food shortages.

During the 1980s the state of Georgia suffered $28 million in lost wheat in one year after the fly overcame the plants' resistance gene used in the area at the time. The Hessian fly is particularly insidious because it actually can control the wheat plant's development.

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