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Washington State University Molecular Plant Sciences

Diter von Wettstein

In Memorium

R.A. Nilan Professor, Crop and Soil Sciences.
Ph.D. 1953, Univ of Tübingen; Ph.D. 1953,
Univ of Stockholm; D.Sc. 1957, Univ. of Stockholm.


Currently two research projects are pursued.

1) Celiac sprue patients have to live with total abstinence from wheat, barley, rye containing food. Their painful erasure of the brushborder in the small intestine is caused by protein sequences (epitopes) in grain storage proteins that cannot be digested by stomach, pancreatic and intestinal enzymes and cause the autoimmune destruction of the brushborder. The great majority of these epitopes are located in wheat prolamin proteins called gliadins. A mutant has been identified that cannot synthesize these type of prolamins. The mutation prevents the transcription of the corresponding genes as it inactivates an enzyme that has to remove methyl groups from the DNA before these genes can be transcribed in the endosperm into messenger RNA for translation into protein. But the wheat High Molecular Weight glutenin type protein that alone determines baking quality is synthesized because it is transcribed and translated from genes that do not require de-methylation. We are therefore looking for these type of mutants to get rid of all the gliadins. Excellent bread roles were baked from flour lacking gliadins but with an addition of purified High Molecular Weight glutenin produced in fermenters by yeast containing the corresponding wheat genes. The dough had outstanding elasticity. Breeding of wheat suitable for celiac patients is pursued.

2) Transgenic barleys expressing high levels of recombinant proteins in the storage protein bodies of the barley grain are tested in the greenhouse and field. Proteins successfully expressed are a thermotolerant (1,3-1,4)-ß-glucanase (providing the bases a high-energy barley chicken feed), human lactoferrin and lysozyme. A project to produce procollagen (gelatin) in the developing grain has been initiated.

Recombinant Wheat
Birds Lacking (1,3-1,4)-Beta-Glucanase

Selected Publications

von Wettstein, D. (2009) Mutants pave the way to wheat and barley for celiac patients and dietary health. Q.Y. Shu (ed.), Induced Plant Mutations in the Genomics Era. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, 2009, 187-190.

Nirmala, J., S. Dahl, B.J. Steffenson, C.G. Kannangara, D. von Wettstein, X. Chen & A. Kleinhofs. 2007. Proteolysis of the barley receptor-like protein kinase RPG1 by a proteasome pathway is correlated with Rpg1-mediated stem rust resistance. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 104:10276-81.

Pollman, S., A. Springer, F. Buhr, A. Lahroussi, I. Samol, J-M Bonneville, G. Tichtinsky, D. von Wettstein, C. Reinbothe & S. Reinbothe. 2007. A plant porphyria related to defects in plastid import of protochloropyllide oxidoreductase A. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 104:2019-2023.

von Wettstein, D. 2007. From analysis of mutants to genetic engineering. Annu.Rev. Plant Biol. 58:1-19.

Wu, Y-C., D. von Wettstein, C. G. Kannangara, J. Nirmala & R.J. Cook. 2006. Growth inhibition of the cereal root pathogens Rhizoctonia solani AG8, R. oryzae and Gaeumannomyces graminis var. tritici by a recombinant endochitinase from Trichoderma harzianum. Biocontrol Sci. Technol. 16(6):631-646.

Nirmala, J., R.Brueggeman, C. Maier, C. Clay, N. Rostoks, C. G. Kannangara, D. von Wettstein, B.J. Steffenson & A. Kleinhofs. 2006. Subcellular localization and functions of the barley stem rust resistance receptor-like serine/threonine-specific protein kinase RPG1. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 103:7518-7523.

Wettstein, D. von. 2006. Fascinations with Chloroplasts and Chromosome Pairing. Introductory Review; Progress in Botany 67:1-28.

Jansen, C., D. von Wettstein, W. Schäfer, K-H. Kogel, A. Felk & F.J. Maier. 2005. Infection patterns in barley and wheat inoculated with wild-type and trichodiene synthase gene disrupted Fusarium graminearun. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 102:16892-16897.

Waller, F., B. Achatz, H. Baltruschat, J. Fodor, K. Becker, M. Fischer, T. Heier, R. Hückelhoven, C. Neumann, D. von Wettstein, P. Franken & K.-H. Kogel. 2005. The endophytic fungus Piriformospora indica reprograms barley to salt-stress tolerance, disease resistance, and higher yield. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 102:13386-13391.

Rzeznicka, K., C.J. Walker, T. Westergren, C.G. Kannangara, D.von Wettstein, S. Merchant, S.P. Gough & M. Hansson. 2005. Xantha-l encodes a membrane protein subunit of the aerobic Mg-protoporphyrin IX monomethyl ester cyclase in the chlorophyll biosynthetic pathway. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 102:5886-5891.

Wettstein, D. von. 2004. Transgenic Barley. In: Proc. 9th Internat. Barley Genetics Symposium, Brno, Czech Republ. Czech J. Genet. Plant Breed. 40:79.

Wettstein, D. von, J.S. Cochran, S.E. Ullrich, C.G. Kannangara, V.A. Jitkov, J.W. Burns, P.E. Reisenauer, X. Chen, and B.L. Jones. 2004. Registration of ‘Radiant’ Barley. Crop Science 44:1859-1860.

Wettstein, D.von, J. Warner & C.G. Kannangara. 2003. Supplements of transgenic malt or grain containing (1,3-1,4)-β-glucanase to barley based broiler diets lift their nutritive value to that of corn. Brit. J. Poultry Sci. 44:438-449.

Druka A., D. Kudrna, N. Rostoks, R. Brueggeman, D. von Wettstein & A. Kleinhofs. 2003. Chalcone isomerase gene from rice (Oryza sativa) and barley (Hordeum vulgare): physical, genetic and mutation mapping. Gene 302:171-178.

Horvath H., N. Rostoks, R. Brueggeman, B. Steffenson, D.von Wettstein & A.Kleinhofs. 2003. Genetically engineered stem rust resistance in barley using the Rpg1 gene. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 100:364-369.

Druka, A., Kudrna, D., Kannangara, C.G., von Wettstein, D. and Kleinhofs, A. 2002. Physical and genetic mapping of barley (Hordeum vulgare) germin-like cDNAs. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 99:850-855.

Stahl, R., Horvath, H., van Fleet, J., Voetz, M., von Wettstein, D. and Wolf, N. 2002. T-DNA integration into the barley genome from single and double cassette vectors. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 99:2146-2151.

Zakhrabekova, S., Kannangara, C.G., von Wettstein, D. and Hansson, M. 2002. A microarray approach for identifying mutated genes. Plant. Physiol. Biochem. 40:189-197.

Horvath, H., Jensen, L.G., Wong, O.T., Kohl, E., Ullrich, S.E., Cochran, J., Kannangara, C.G. and von Wettstein, D. 2001. Stability of transgene expression, field performance and recombination breeding of transformed barley lines. Theor. Appl. Genet. 102:1-11, 2001. Horvath, H., Huang, J., Wong, O.T., Kohl, E., Okita, T., Kannangara, C.G. and von Wettstein, D. 2000. The production of recombinant proteins in transgenic barley grains. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 97:1914-1919.

von Wettstein, D. Chlorophyll Biosynthesis I: From analysis of mutants to genetic engineering of the pathway. In: Discoveries in Plant Biology. S-D. Kung and S-F Yang eds. (World Scientific, Singapore) Vol. 3:75-93, 2000.

von Wettstein, D. Chlorophyll Biosynthesis II: Adventures with native and recombinant enzymes. In: Discoveries in Plant Biology. S-D. Kung and S-F Yang eds. (World Scientific, Singapore) Vol. 3:95-139, 2000. von Wettstein, D., Mikhaylenko, G., Froseth, J.A. and Kannangara, C.G. 2000. Improved barley broiler feed with transgenic malt containing heat-stable (1,3-1,4)-β-glucanase. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 97:13512-13517.