Ernest R. Sears
Wolf Prize Laureate in Agriculture 1986
The Agriculture Prize Committee for 1986 unanimously recommends that the Wolf Prize in Agriculture be shared jointly by Ernest R. Sears and Ralph Riley.
Ernest R. Sears
University of Missouri
Columbia, Missouri, USA
“for their fundamental research in cytogenetics of wheat, providing the basis for genetic improvement of cereal grains.”
The Wolf Foundation prize was awarded to two eminent plant cytogeneticists tor their basic plant breeding research which has provided the foundation for improved cereal grain varieties.
The prize is presented to both scientists to recognize their independent but related work which led-to. the finding that the 5B chromosome controls chromosome pairing in wheat. This discovery allowed insertion of genes from alien species into wheat. It permits plant breeders to take desirable characteristics from alien plants, such as wild grasses, and insert them in wheat to vastly improve wheat germ plasms and cultivars.
Ernest R. Sears synthesized for the first time in 1946 a hexaploid wheat. In 1950, he completed work, which established the monosomic series in wheat, and later created a mullisomic series, a trisomic series, and a telesomic series of chromosomes in wheat. These have greatly enhanced development and breeding of modern wheat varieties.
Together, the work of these two brilliant and dedicated scientists has led to enormously improved understanding of plant cytogenetics, thus allowing plant breeders to vastly improve cereal grain varieties to feed the world´s growing and hungry population.