Case Study 3: Power Wheat: Genes for Improvement of Modern Wheat
Principal Investigators: US: Jorge Dubcovsky (The University of California Davis); IS: Tzion Fahima (University of Haifa)
Goal: To identify genes that increase grain protein content, micronutrients and stripe rust resistance in wild emmer wheat and to transfer them to commercial varieties.
Activities: Successful cloning and breeding programs led to high protein wheat varieties without loss of yield and wheat varieties introgressed with two stripe rust resistant genes.
Outcomes: Genetic maps, DNA markers and gene sequences were made publicly available and germplasm has been shared with wheat researchers all over the world. In the US and Canada, between 2013 – 2018, commercial introgressed cultivars were grown on ~ 110,000 hectares and a similar acreage was grown in India in 2018. To date, all wheat in California is grown without fungicides thanks to the incorporation of these genes.
Economic Benefit: The Net Present Value of BARD’s investment is estimated at $118 million, thereof $20 million already attained. Internal Rate of Return is 32%. Benefit-Cost Ratio is 50, thereof 9 already attained.
Capacity Building: 20 postgraduates were involved in the research supported by the 5 BARD awards between 2001 and 2016. Currently, at least 10 of these are in academia in the US, Israel, China, Argentina and the UK, and 1 is in the biotechnology industry.