They selected the rye plant, a distant relative of wheat, because it was known to be highly resistant to the Hessian fly.
Resistance was verified by finding dead Hessian fly larvae at the base of the plants," Hatchett says.
In the past, any unfumigated compressed bales with even a wisp of wheat - a Hessian fly
favorite - or perhaps a stray stem of a weed species known to harbor the fly - would be rejected by Japanese agricultural inspectors to safeguard Japan's farms from this pest.
The Hessian fly, Mayetiola destructor, is considered wheat's most damaging pest.
Plant breeders have been able to give wheat some natural resistance to the Hessian fly for many years.
Plant breeders are constantly engaged in a vicious cycle, developing wheats that resist the Hessian fly
The West Lafayette researchers have 52,000 microsatellite markers for Hessian fly genes, with enough duplication and overlap to more than cover the entire Hessian fly genome.
Schemerhorn is also doing something never done before: She's sampling all Hessian fly populations across the United States to determine the extent of their genetic variability.
This key discovery enables genes from rye - which is highly resistant to Hessian fly
- to attach to wheat chromosomes.
Instead, the researchers found that a specific protein (HFR-3), one of a group of substances called lectins, is capable of binding with a carbohydrate complex in the Hessian fly
Other studies have failed to demonstrate that female oviposition behavior optimizes the fitness of hatching offspring; Hessian fly
(Mayetiola destructor (Say)) revealed that females fail to choose optimal plant hosts for oviposition and larval feeding despite a complete lack of larval dispersion (Harris et al.
It is not affected by Russian wheat aphid, Hessian fly
, or wheat diseases such as take-all, which is caused by the fungus Gaeumannomyces graminis, and eyespot, caused by the fungus Pseudocerospoelle hepitricoides.
Those traits included resistance to stem rust relatives, such as stripe rust and bunt, and the ability to fend off attack by a devastating insect foe, the Hessian fly