Identification of fusarium resistance within UK oat breeding lines (PhD)
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About this project
Fungal Fusarium species can infect cereals pre- or post-harvest, resulting in the contamination of harvested grains with mycotoxins. HT2+T2 mycotoxins have been identified at high levels in UK oat grains at harvest as a result of F langsethiae infection. The EC has introduced indicative levels of HT2 and T2 in cereals and cereal products for human consumption. Differences in the susceptibility of oats to Fusarium infection are genetic rather than cultural (e.g. sowing date) or morphological (e.g. height). Studies are, however, hampered by the inability to artificially inoculate oats with F langsethiae. This project aims to develop an inoculation method for the infection of oats with F langsethiae and identify genetic markers for resistance/susceptibility to Fusarium.
Glasshouse experiments will be used to achieve realtively high infection and HT2 and T2 concentrations in oat panicles. Varieties with high susceptibility to F langsethiae, different forms of inoculum at a range of concentrations, additives (wetting agents and nutrients) and environmental conditions (temperature and humidity) will be studied. Differences in F langsethiae resistance – identified within a mapping population of a dwarf winter x tall winter oat – will be exploited to identify Quantitative Trait Locus (QTL) associated with this resistance. Oat lines that differ for the presence/absence of chromosomal regions (QTL) for key traits associated with Fusarium resistance (i.e. height, flowering time and panicle architecture) will be used. Experimental oat lines developed in the earlier QUOATS LINK project (part-funded by AHDB) will be further exploited in this project.
Studies have shown that there is a limited ability to reduce HT2 and T2 in oats through agronomic practices. The most achievable and economically viable long-term strategy is the breeding of oat genotypes with good resistance to Fusarium langsethiae. The outputs from this project could facilitate efforts of plant breeders in their efforts by using genetic marker assisted selection of new oat varieties with enhanced and stable expression of these traits.