Being able to pinpoint molecular mechanisms within a wheat plant to help researchers select for drought tolerance and quality might be the most important aspect of a new Texas AgriLife Research and Bayer CropScience agreement, officials say.

“The advancement of technology to support the development of crop varieties is essential to the health and prosperity of the state, nation and the world,” said John Sharp, chancellor of The Texas A&M University System. “This multi-year agreement is fundamental to that goal.”

Drought tolerance and tortillas or other flat breads are projects targeted for collaboration, said Dr. Mark Hussey, vice chancellor and dean for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences of the Texas A&M System.

“It is essential that we develop strategic, focused areas of collaboration with major corporate partners in order to maintain and grow our wheat and small grains program,” Hussey said. “This will help ensure we remain connected to the marketplace for the benefit of growers, producers and consumers.”

“We believe our collaboration with Texas AgriLife will help to advance global improvement of wheat genetics and quality, and is particularly important for our focus on key traits like drought tolerance and disease resistance,” said Dr. Mike Gilbert of Lubbock, head of breeding and trait development for Bayer CropScience.

Dr. Craig Nessler, AgriLife Research director, said this will give worldwide exposure to the Texas A&M System wheat improvement programs of AgriLife Research and the Texas AgriLife Extension Service. In addition, it builds a strategic research and development relationship with a company that shares AgriLife’s dedication to crop improvement.

This agreement will allow researchers to utilize biotechnology to make a concentrated effort on drought tolerance for Texas wheat producers, Nessler said, while providing Bayer with non-exclusive access to some of AgriLife Research’s wheat breeding materials to build into its germplasm base.