Barley resistance to rhynchosporium: new sources and closely linked markers (PhD)

Project number 21130048

Lead partner James Hutton Institute 

Scientific partner University of Dundee

Industry partners SECOBRA Recherches SAS, AGRII and Lantmannen

Start date October 2017

End date March 2021

AHDB funding £70,500

Total funding £90,300

The challenge

Rhynchosporium is by far the most damaging and costly disease of spring and winter barley in the UK, with annual yield losses of around £7.2 million. Control strategies rely heavily on the application of fungicides. Legal restrictions on chemical classes and decreasing fungicide effectiveness require the introduction and maintenance of effective cultivar resistance to achieve sustainable disease management. Introduction of disease resistance into new cultivars is becoming an increasingly high priority for barley breeders, who require detailed information, including tightly linked genetic markers, on a diverse array of resistance genes to produce durable cultivar resistance.

The project

The overall aim is to identify new sources of resistance to rhynchosporium among barley landraces and wild relatives. New resistances will be mapped onto a new barley genome assembly. Candidate genes and new markers will be identified. These can be used by barley breeders for marker assisted selection, allowing rapid introgression of new resistance loci into elite breeding lines. A collection of 239 barley landraces and 90 wild relatives, representative of the geographical distribution, will be used to identify new sources of resistance, map new resistances, identify closely linked markers and further characterise previously mapped resistance genes. This collection has been exome captured and sequenced, and this genotypic data will be used, in combination with field resistance scores, in a Genome Wide Association Scan (GWAS) to identify Quantitative Trait Loci (QTL) for rhynchosporium resistance and closely linked markers.

The benefits

The project will generate results that are of direct benefit to UK barley breeders and contribute to the long-term improvement in the level of resistance to rhynchosporium in barley cultivars. Deployment of new barley cultivars resistant to rhynchosporium will increase and stabilise crop yield and quality, maximising the overall profitability of the UK barley crop. In addition, this project will provide information on the molecular interaction between Rhynchosporium commune and barley during infection.

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