Identification of fusarium resistance within UK oat breeding lines

Project number
Lead partner
Harper Adams University
Start Date
October 2015
End date
September 2021
AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds funding

The challenge

Various fungal species can infect cereals pre- or post-harvest. HT2 and T2 mycotoxins have been identified at high levels in UK oat grains at harvest as a result of Fusarium langsethiae infection. They are two of the most potent type A trichothecene mycotoxins and are a public health concern. The European Commission recently published a recommendation with indicative levels of HT2 and T2 in cereals and cereal products for human consumption. However, the F. langsethiae–cereal interaction is poorly understood, making the development of control strategies difficult. A recent study of UK oat varieties has identified differences in the susceptibility of oats to fusarium infection are genetic rather than cultural (e.g. sowing date) or morphological (e.g. height). However, progress in such approaches is hampered by the inability to artificially inoculate oats with F. langsethiae.

The project

This PhD project aims to develop an effective glasshouse inoculation method for the infection of oats with F. langsethiae and identify quantitative trait loci (QTL) for resistance/susceptibility to fusarium using selected mapping populations and near-isogenic lines. Studies will include varieties identified with high susceptibility to F. langsethiae (Balado and Fusion), winter versus spring varieties, tall versus dwarf varieties and naked versus husked varieties, different forms of inoculum, a range of inoculum concentrations, additives and environmental conditions. This project will also use 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.

The benefits

This proposed project could help plant breeders in marker assisted selection of new oat varieties with enhanced and stable expression of traits associated with resistance/susceptibility to fusarium. Furthermore, a better understanding of F. langsethiae–cereal interaction could aid the development of control strategies to minimise T2 and HT2 mycotoxin content in cereals.

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