Research proposals involving ribonucleic acid interference (RNAi) began to cross Lauren Comin’s desk three years ago. Since then, the gene-inhibiting technology has developed a revolutionary aura as a potential next big thing in crop protection.
Spring wheat is Western Canada’s most significant crop. In the northern Prairies, though, much of the wheat grown for bread ends up being downgraded due to frost damage. This creates difficulties for farmers at harvest, but also impacts their bottom line. Dean Spaner, a University of Alberta Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences professor, is addressing the problem in a research project funded by the Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC). The initiative will examine early-maturity traits in the hopes of addressing the challenge.