Tao Wang

Professor, Chengdu Institute of Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences

Summary of my Work

My research interests focus on the improvement and development of wheat varieties that can be adapted to the environments of the South-west China through conventional plant breeding and molecular genetic methods. In particular, my research objectives are to develop new stripe-rust-resistant wheat varieties with high yields and high grain quality. These genetic materials will be provided to local farmers in order to maintain sustainable wheat production in this region. In addition, my research also involves the identification and characterization of wheat genes responsible for wheat end-use quality, and the development of molecular markers that can be used for wheat MAS (Molecular Assisted Selection) breeding program. Currently, our research team is focusing on developing superior waxy (amylose-free) wheat varieties.

Impacts in China

About a quarter of the total land area of China is in the South-west region. Wheat production in this area has been facing many challenges, including low yields, low nutritional qualities, and wide spread stripe rust diseases. Tibet faces the most challenges in this area: the protein content of the Tibetan wheat is often too low to be used in any baked or steamed products. Therefore, it is urgent to develop new wheat varieties for the South-west China, especially for Tibet, with high yields, high quality and stripe rust resistance. Thus, our research can potentially make contributions to food security in China.

As a Tang Scholar, I will conduct two projects in Dr. Leon Kochian's lab:

  1. Genetic mapping of the loci that determine the cereal mineral ion content in wheat through genetics and ionomics approaches (in collaboration with Dr. Mark Sorrells);
  2. Evaluation and characterization of aluminum (Al) tolerance for wheat germplasm collected from the South-west China region. Aluminum (Al) is ubiquitous in soils and when solubilized at pH values below 5.0, is highly phytotoxic as Al3+.

Approximately 30% of the world's total land area and over 50% of the world's potentially arable lands are acidic. A large portion of the acid soils occur in the South-west China. Therefore, Al toxicity is one of the major constrains that limit wheat production in the South-west China. In collaboration with Dr. Leon Kochian's group, we will understand the impacts of high Al content in acid soils on wheat yields and grain quality for the Tibetan germplasm collection and to identify wheat varieties from this collection that are tolerant to Al stress. Our goals are to dissect the genetic mechanism underlying Al tolerance in the selected Tibetan wheat lines. Although a major Al tolerance mechanism has been identified as a TaALMT1-mediated Al-activated root malate exudation system in common wheat, due to the unique nature of our Tibetan wheat germplasm which was collected from an isolated region, our studies might result in identifying new Al tolerance mechanisms in wheat.