A team of researchers from The University of Western Australia has discovered key genes in wheat that are associated with Metribuzin herbicide tolerance.

Wheat is Australia's largest grain crop and contributes to approximately 12 per cent of world's trade, however, weed infestations cause serious reductions in wheat yields.

The study, published in BMC Plant Biology, will provide valuable information to plant breeders and wheat producers in Australia and across the world. Lead researcher, UWA PhD student Roopali Bhoite, said that developing herbicide-resistant wheat was vital for global food security.

"Herbicide tolerance is an important trait that allows effective weed management in crops in dryland farming," said Roopali. "To protect crops against herbicide damage and maximise crop yields, we must develop crops with high herbicide tolerance.

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"The key genes identified include PSII assembly factor YCF48, cytochrome P450, glutathione S-transferase, glycosyltransferase and glutathione peroxidase." Director of UWA's Institute of Agriculture, Hackett Professor Kadambot Siddique, said knowledge of herbicide tolerance in wheat could be used to develop new, improved and more resilient crops.

"We have identified key genes associated with herbicide tolerance in wheat," said Kadambot. "This research will allow for the development of herbicide-tolerant wheat which will promote integrated weed management and improve grain yield significantly."