Saskatchewan Researchers Eye Wheat DNA Test

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A Saskatoon research lab plans to see if it can make a prototype rapid wheat DNA test roadworthy for grain industry use by this fall.

SRC GenServe Laboratories, operated by the Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC), has signed an agreement with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada to see if the technology, developed by AAFC and other research partners can be made into a viable commercial test to identify wheat classes and varieties through DNA analysis.

SRC GenServe said it aims to complete that “validation phase” for wheat class DNA testing by June.

The technology could reduce liability system by preventing costly last-minute class downgrades on large grain shipments, SRC said. If successful, the test would help ensure grain shipments are graded correctly and farmers and grain companies are paid appropriately.

SRC couldn’t yet say how much such a test would cost, since it’s still developing a costing model. It also said the process and science are still in the development stage, thus it’s not yet known how quickly the prototype process would yield a reliable result.

Under its agreement with AAFC, SRC GenServe will also use DNA analysis to test up to 150,000 seeds for wheat midge resistance.

SRC says it has “considerable experience” dealing with DNA testing, including molecular marker testing, QTL detection, molecular marker development, parentage identification and DNA fingerprinting.

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