Resistance by elimination


Wheat is one of the most important cereal crops in the world and provides 20% of the protein and calories for 4.5 billion people. Yellow rust, Septoria tritici blotch and Fusarium head blight (FHB) are three of the most damaging diseases in many wheat growing areas. Control of these diseases is vital to protect yield and in the case of FHB, avoid the risk of mycotoxins contaminating grain.

Our recent findings reveal that the susceptibility of wheat is not always caused by the lack of a ‘resistance’ factor but because of the presence of a ‘susceptibility’ factor. The elimination of such factors can greatly increase resistance.

We developed a ‘tiling-path’ panel of gamma ray-irradiated deletion lines sequenced to identify the position and size of deletions across the genome.

The panel will be screened for resistance to the three diseases to identify regions associated with susceptibility. Additional deletion lines will be assayed to identify those carrying small deletions across the region of interest. Candidate genes will be validated using TILLING lines carrying mutations in the target genes. The huge advances in wheat genomic tools and resources should enable the student to identify several candidate susceptibility factor genes within the period of study.

This project provides an opportunity to work in an exciting area of crop research and gain experience and training in techniques and technologies at the forefront of wheat genomics and genetics. the student will receive training in bioinformatics relating to grass genomes, state-of-the-art marker technologies, and molecular biology along with plant pathology. The project will provide training in fundamental scientific processes relating to cereals and enable the student to become a highly competent crop scientist. The project is conducted in close collaboration with RAGT Seeds which will provide the student with invaluable insight into modern plant breeding.