Scientists Develop Aphid-Resistant Barley

Two new varieties and 50 new germplasms resist all known types of Russian wheat aphid.

Agricultural Research Service scientists and their collaborators have released two new varieties and 50 germplasm lines of barley that resist all known types of Russian wheat aphid, the pest afflicting western Great Plains barley.

The original RWA began damaging barley crops in the Plains in 1986, and five new races of the pest have been found since 2003. RWA has halted barley production in parts of eastern Colorado and Wyoming, and in parts of western Nebraska and Kansas.

The new varieties, named Sidney and Stoneham, are drought-hardy spring feed barleys. The scientists also released 36 spring germplasm lines of malting barley, and 14 germplasm lines of feed barley, seven each for spring and winter planting.

The new varieties and germplasms come from a 12-year project led by ARS plant geneticist Dolores Mornhinweg and geneticists Phil Bregitzer and Donald Obert. Their objective is to introduce RWA-resistant genes to every commercial barley type grown in the United States.

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