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Identification of Fusarium resistance traits in UK oat varieties

Student Report No. SR39

Identification of Fusarium resistance traits in UK oat varieties  

Tijana Stancic1

 1 Harper Adams University, Newport, Shropshire, TF10 8NB, UK

2IBERS, Aberystwyth University, Plas Gogerddan, Aberystwyth, SY23 3EB, UK 

Supervisors:

Simon Edwards1 and Sandy Cowan2

Advisor:

Catherine Howarth2

Abstract

The aim of this project was to understand the variation in resistance of UK oat varieties to Fusarium langesthiae, which is the most common Fusarium species on oats in the UK.

Differences between varieties were identified and experiment indicated that some winter varieties, such as Gerald and Balado, had consistently higher HT2+T2, regardless of sowing date and are, therefore, genetically more susceptible to F. langsethiae infection. 

It was also identified that some naked oat varieties, such as winter Fusion and Grafton, have high HT2+T2 levels before harvest and hence high susceptibility to F. langsethiae. 

Height was identified as a resistance factor but as only one of many or there is a close genetic linkage between the dwarf gene and susceptibility QTL. QTLs for resistance were identified and might find use in breeding programs for high yielding, more resistant oat varieties.

As it is currently not possible to successfully inoculate oat plants with F. langsethiae for the purpose of resistance screening, an experiment with a model plant was conducted and the results show that Brachypodium distachyon is a host for F. langsethiae and produces typical head blight symptoms after infection. 

This PhD project provided several opportunities to improve existing knowledge that will extend the direction of Fusarium in oat research. The industry and society should see the benefit of developing new varieties and improvement of oats which has proven health benefits.

These benefits are in having safer crops with lower levels of mycotoxins and minimising the application of fungicides in more resistant oat crops. Home-grown varieties within the EU mycotoxin limits will help the commercial sustainability of the UK oat industry.

Based on results presented, it is possible to give better advice to growers, selecting for less susceptible oat varieties and recommending inclusion of spring oat varieties, as they tend to be less susceptible to F. langsethiae infection and subsequent HT2+T2 contamination.

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