Nicola Cook, a second year student at the John Innes Centre in Diane Saunders’ lab, has just started her iCASE placement with Syngenta at their Stein laboratory in Switzerland.
Nicola Cook, a second year student at the John Innes Centre in Diane Saunders’ lab, has just started her iCASE placement with Syngenta at their Stein laboratory in Switzerland. Nicola is developing a method to genotype fungal pathogens for fungicide resistance mutations to inform fungicide management practices. Evolved resistance to fungicides is a major threat to global food security and the implementation of resistance management strategies is essential to prolong the effective life of existing and new fungicides. A key aspect of these strategies is the monitoring of pathogen populations and epidemics to measure the prevalence and impact of resistance. To date, monitoring strongly relates to phenotypic data; i.e. field trials are carried out and pathogen isolates are tested for decreased sensitivity. Whilst there will always be a need for phenotyping, the cost in time and money limits the effectiveness of such methods.
Recent advances in gene and genome sequencing methods have brought us to the point where genotypic monitoring might be considered as a first line of investigation. Nicola is using existing techniques to develop an effective, rapid genotyping platform specifically focused on monitoring genes targeted by fungicides for mutations that have been shown to induce resistance. Syngenta is a world leader in fungal disease control and Nicola will be spending three months at their Stein laboratory doing lab and field work including collecting field trial samples for use within her own project as well as learning new techniques to monitor fungal pathogens.