Understanding resistance to decrease risk of severe phoma stem canker on oilseed rape

Project Number
Lead Scientist
Bruce Fitt, University of Hertfordshire
Co-operative Farms, National Farmers' Union, Chadacre Agricultural Trust, Felix Thornley Trust, Perry Foundation, DSV UK Ltd, Elsoms Seeds Ltd, Grainseed Ltd, LS Plant Breeding Ltd, Monsanto UK Ltd, Pioneer-Hi-Bred Northern Europe GMBH, Saaten-Union UK Ltd, Syngenta Seeds, Limagrain UK Ltd
Start Date
End date
HGCA Funding
£124,000 cash
£11,800 in-kind


The problem 

Use of host resistance is the most effective and environmentally-friendly way to control plant diseases. Oilseed rape (Brassica napus) is an important arable crop in the UK. The disease phoma stem canker, caused by Leptosphaeria maculans, poses an increasing threat to sustainable production of this crop. In the UK, phoma stem canker cause losses of > £100M p.a., despite use of fungicides. These losses will increase if the most effective fungicides are no longer permitted by EU legislation. Furthermore, it is predicted that climate change will continue to increase the range and severity of phoma stem canker epidemics. Thus, there is a challenge to produce cultivars with effective resistance in a changing climate to contribute to national food security.  

Project aims 

To decrease future risk of severe phoma stem canker on oilseed rape by

1) developing a scheme for effective use of host resistance
2) using temperature as a means to improve understanding of operation of B. napus resistance to L. maculans.


1) To identify L. maculans races in different geographical regions of the UK.
2) To investigate phenotypes of different major (resistance) R genes and quantitative resistance against L. maculans in leaf and stem tissues in different environments.
3) To develop an experimental system to investigate mechanisms of operation of R gene and quantitative resistance against L. maculans.

Benefits to the industry 

Results from this project will help growers to minimise the risk of severe epidemics on oilseed rape so that yields are maintained to contribute to national food security and avoid unnecessary fungicide use. Breeders will also benefit from improved strategies for breeding cultivars with effective disease resistance and agricultural advisors will be able to use the results to make recommendations on effective use of host resistance.

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