The genetic basis of cytoplasmic male sterility and fertility restoration in wheat

Joanna Melonek, Jorge Duarte, Jerome Martin, Laurent Beuf, Alain Murigneux, Pierrick Varenne, Jordi Comadran, Sebastien Specel, Sylvain Levadoux, Kalia Bernath-Levin, François Torney, Jean-Philippe Pichon, Pascual Perez, Ian Small

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51 Citations (Scopus)


Hybrid wheat varieties give higher yields than conventional lines but are difficult to produce due to a lack of effective control of male fertility in breeding lines. One promising system involves the Rf1 and Rf3 genes that restore fertility of wheat plants carrying Triticum timopheevii-type cytoplasmic male sterility (T-CMS). Here, by genetic mapping and comparative sequence analyses, we identify Rf1 and Rf3 candidates that can restore normal pollen production in transgenic wheat plants carrying T-CMS. We show that Rf1 and Rf3 bind to the mitochondrial orf279 transcript and induce cleavage, preventing expression of the CMS trait. The identification of restorer genes in wheat is an important step towards the development of hybrid wheat varieties based on a CMS-Rf system. The characterisation of their mode of action brings insights into the molecular basis of CMS and fertility restoration in plants.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1036
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2021


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