UK-Brazil Partnering Award for Developing New Aphid Resistance in Wheat

Lead Research Organisation: Rothamsted Research
Department Name: Biointeractions and Crop Protection


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Description The overall aim of this partnering award is to bring together UK (Rothamsted Research) and Brazilian (Embrapa-Wheat) expertise in a new partnership, to create aphid resistant wheat, whereby exchange visits can facilitate the development of (i) a high-throughput phenotype platform in the UK and Brazil for screening multiple accessions, from UK and Brazilian germplasm, of ancestor species and hexaploid varieties, for aphid resistance and (ii) protocols required for the analysis of the causal secondary metabolites for observed resistance of aphid-resistant wheat.

Experiments were conducted to facilitate the development of a phenotype platform for assaying aphid resistance in ancestor (diploid) and hexaploid wheat, including: bioassays of short duration and high capacity assessment of wheat lines and cultivars - High throughput screening (HTP), and bioassays for assessing the effects of wheat plants on the development of aphid populations - aphid infestation - weighing bioassays (Wbio). Development of the phenotype platform was facilitated by the six month visit of an Embrapa-Wheat scientist to Rothamsted Research, and skills were transferred to the Embrapa scientist for further development of a phenotype platform upon return to Brazil.

Protocols required for the analysis of the causal secondary metabolites for observed resistance of aphid-resistant wheat were developed via a six-month visit to Rothamsted Research by another Embrapa-Wheat scientist. During this period, training was provided in the extraction and HPLC analysis of causal secondary metabolites from wheat seedlings that were responsible for wheat resistance to aphids. Subsequent to this visit, further natural product isolation and analysis was undertaken at Rothamsted by junior researcher Andre Sarria, a recently recruited Brazilian PDRA at Rothamsted. In summary, natural levels of the plant defence compound DIMBOA in eight hexaploid Brazilian wheat genotypes and the impact of the genotypes upon development of cereal aphids, Rhopalosiphum padi and Sitobion avenae, were investigated, and bioassays were conducted to evaluate the development and fecundity of both aphid species when grown on the wheat genotypes. Although BRS Guabiju and BRS Timbaúva were among the genotypes showing the worse and best performances, respectively, against both species, no correlation could be found between DIMBOA levels and antibiosis effects. Lower mean growth rate for both aphids was detected in BRS 327 that was among the genotypes showing lower intrinsic rate of population increase for the two aphid species. The characterization of the levels of DIMBOA and the genotypes where aphid development was negatively impacted is important for a better understanding of natural aphid resistance in hexaploid Brazilian wheat. Protocols for the analysis of causal secondary metabolites in ancestor and hexaploid wheat have been developed and skills transferred to Embrapa for implementation in Brazil to further investigate the causal metabolites that are actually responsible for antibiosis effects.

A workshop was held in June 2015 to enable the discussion, development and planning of a bilateral programme of research on developing aphid-resistant wheat involving Rothamsted and 3 Embrapa Units, which formed the basis of the proposal that was submitted to the BBSRC-Embrapa Wheat full project call in September 2015.
Exploitation Route Globally, sustainable intensification of crop production systems requires the delivery of new crop protection tools via seed, ie. GM, and the enhancement of ecosystem services, i.e. beneficial natural enemies, from land set aside as natural habitats. The findings here underpin the practical development of new crop protection interventions based on chemical ecology, specifically plant defence signalling, and which can deliver crop protection via smart plants, sentinel technology and recruitment of ecosystem services i.e. beneficial natural enemy populations for conservation biological control.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink