U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska


Date of this Version


Document Type



Agricultural Research January 2002


Everyone likes to take shortcuts in time-consuming tasks. And wheat breeders are no exception. Someday, wheat breeders may be able to use new molecular tools being developed by ARS in collaboration with Kansas State University and the Kansas Wheat Commission.

These tools show promise for reducing the time it takes breeders to move important quality and resistance traits into breeding populations of wheat using conventional breeding techniques. Currently, it can take as long as 10 or more years to develop new wheat varieties.

“Using molecular (or DNA) markers may shorten the task of improving insect and disease resistance while maintaining good yield and quality characteristics,” says plant geneticist Gina L. Brown-Guedira in ARS’ Plant Science and Entomology Research Unit in Manhattan, Kansas.

Molecular markers are small pieces of genetic material— DNA—that can be seen on a gel and are known to be reliably linked in this case to resistance genes. They offer breeders a fast and safe way to identify wheat resistant to pathogens.