Maximising the potential for Pch1 eyespot resistance and increased grain protein content in commercial wheat

Project number
21130018 (previously numbered 3803)
Lead partner
Dr Paul Nicholson, John Innes Centre
Industry partners
Biogemma, Limagrain, RAGT
Start Date
End date
HGCA funding


The challenge

Eyespot disease in cereals poses a threat to the UK wheat crop and is particularly serious in second wheat situations, where yield losses of up to 30% can occur. In the UK, losses average in the order of £12-20 million per annum, despite significant expenditure on fungicides. Few sources of eyespot resistance are known, the most potent being the gene Pch1. Wheat varieties carrying the segment of chromosome which holds Pch1 are highly resistant to eyespot and give a higher grain protein content than expected for their yield. However, these varieties also suffer a yield penalty.

The project

The project will determine the relative position of genes for the three traits and produce plant material to isolate eyespot resistance and increased protein content from reduced yield. DNA markers will also be developed to allow breeders to track the three traits in their breeding programmes, allowing selection for the desirable traits and removal of the unwanted yield loss trait.

The benefits

The materials developed in this project will feed into breeding programmes and eventually into commercially available varieties. This will directly benefit plant breeders, and subsequently growers, through the availability of eyespot resistant wheat varieties with high yield and high grain protein content. These eyespot resistant varieties will require a reduced fungicide application, contributing to improved profitability for growers as well as environmental benefits, whilst the improved grain protein quality will allow breeders to produce varieties suitable for milling.

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