16AGRITECHCAT5: Integrated control of Leptosphaeria pathogens on UK winter oilseed rape

Lead Research Organisation: University of Hertfordshire
Department Name: School of Life and Medical Sciences

Abstract

Phoma stem canker is an economically important disease of oilseed rape in the UK, leading to annual yield losses > £100M. This disease is caused by two closely related pathogens: Leptosphaeria biglobosa and L. maculans. However, current control of this disease focuses only on L. maculans and does not account for epidemics caused by L. biglobosa. This is one reason why this disease still causes substantial yield losses in the UK, despite the use of fungicides costing £20 M p.a. Results of recent work showed that L. biglobosa can be as destructive as L. maculans and that L. biglobosa is less sensitive to triazole fungicides than L. maculans. Therefore, L. biglobosa is a growing threat to oilseed rape production in the UK since no methods have been developed to control it. Previous research has mainly focused on improving control of L. maculans by both cultivar resistance and fungicides and little work has been done on control of L. biglobosa.

The aims of this project are to understand stem canker epidemics caused by L. biglobosa and to develop new strategies for better control of phoma stem canker by targeting both causal pathogens (L. biglobosa and L. maculans).

This project will use molecular techniques to investigate the differences between different regions in proportions of L. biglobosa and L. maculans in pathogen populations from air samples and differences in proportions of L. biglobosa and L. maculans in oilseed rape stems with severe canker symptoms sampled from different field trials and farmer's fields. Results will be used to guide deployment of cultivars with suitable resistance for the region where the corresponding pathogen species (L. biglobosa or L. maculans) is predominant.

Control of severe stem canker epidemics involves fungicides. However, current fungicide control targets only L. maculans and has relied on use of triazole fungicides. Recent work showed that L. biglobosa is less sensitive to triazole fungicides than L. maculans. This proct will investigate efficacy of triazole and non-triazole fungicides for control of L. biglobosa as well as L. maculans. The new knowledge about efficacy of different fungicides for control of the two pathogens, combined with the information about proportions of L. biglobosa and L. maculans in pathogen populations, will enable better control of the disease by targeted fungicide application. This project will also investigate the mechanisms of changes in sensitivity to different fungicides in L. biglobosa and L. maculans. The new knowledge will be used to guide use of existing fungicides and development of new fungicides.

Use of host resistance is an effective and environmentally friendly way to control plant diseases. However, previous work on oilseed rape resistance against phoma stem canker has been focused on resistance against L. maculans with no work done on resistance against L. biglobosa. This project will assess cultivars and pre-breeding material for resistance against L. biglobosa and use recent developments in genomics to identify candidate resistance genes. This will provide new knowledge for improving breeding and using cultivar resistance to control the disease.

New knowledge obtained from this project about the two causal pathogens, host resistance and efficacy of different fungicides for controlling them will be used to develop integrated control strategies for better control of phoma stem canker. This project will benefit growers by reducing yield losses through development of effective control methods targeting both pathogens. It will also address the challenge of food security. The environment will also benefit from reduced use of fungicides through targeted fungicide applications.

Technical Summary

Phoma stem canker is an economically important disease of oilseed rape in the UK, leading to annual yield losses > £100M. This disease is caused by two closely related pathogens: Leptosphaeria biglobosa and L. maculans. However, current control of this disease focuses only on L. maculans and does not account for epidemics caused by L. biglobosa.

The aims of this project are to understand stem canker epidemics caused by L. biglobosa and to develop new strategies for better control of phoma stem canker by targeting both causal pathogens (L. biglobosa and L. maculans).

This project will use molecular techniques to investigate the differences between different regions in proportions of L. biglobosa and L. maculans in pathogen populations. Results will be used to guide deployment of cultivars with suitable resistance for the region where the corresponding pathogen species (L. biglobosa or L. maculans) is predominant.

Control of severe stem canker epidemics involves fungicides. However, current fungicide control targets only L. maculans and has relied on use of triazole fungicides. This project will investigate efficacy of triazole and non-triazole fungicides for control of L. biglobosa as well as L. maculans.

Use of host resistance is an effective and environmentally friendly way to control plant diseases. However, previous work on oilseed rape resistance against phoma stem canker has been focused on resistance against L. maculans with no work done on resistance against L. biglobosa. This project will assess cultivars and pre-breeding material for resistance against L. biglobosa and use recent developments in genomics to identify candidate resistance genes.

New knowledge obtained from this project about the two causal pathogens, host resistance and efficacy of different fungicides for controlling them will be used to develop integrated control strategies for better control of phoma stem canker.

Planned Impact

A major beneficiary of the project will be growers. New knowledge produced from this project will not only enable better control phoma stem canker to increase yield (by reducing yield losses from the disease) but also help to reduce cost of fungicides (by targeted fungicide application to eliminate unnecessary sprays) to improve profitability. Therefore, this project will help growers to achieve more sustainable and profitable control of phoma stem canker in oilseed rape.

Another major beneficiary of the project will be plant breeders. Currently, there is no information about host resistance against L. biglobosa. The project will develop methods to screen for resistance against L. biglobosa in cultivars and pre-breeding materials, and search for candidate resistance genes using new bioinformatics. Results of this project will provide breeders with materials and information for breeding cultivars with resistance against L. biglobosa.

This project will also benefit agrochemical companies. Current use of fungicides for control of phoma stem canker mainly targets L. maculans and relies on triazole fungicides. This project will investigate efficacy of triazole and non-triazole fungicides for control of L. biglobosa as well as L. maculans. Results from this research will help agrochemical companies to develop and market fungicides for effective control of phoma stem canker by targeting both pathogens.

Agricultural advisors will also benefit by providing better disease control advice. With the new information about differences in pathogen populations between regions, differences in resistance against L. biglobosa and/or L. maculans between cultivars and differences in efficacy for control of L. biglobosa and L. maculans between different fungicides, agronomists can make recommendations on use of effective host resistance and effective fungicides for effective control of phoma stem canker.

Ultimately the public and environment will benefit from reduced fungicide use through improved guidance on deployment of host resistance and targeted fungicide applications. Furthermore, improved disease control in oilseed rape crops will increase yield, which will contribute to national food security. Improved control of phoma stem canker will not only increase yield to contribute to food security, but also reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to contribute to climate change mitigation.

The involvement of seven different partners from different parts of agricultural industry in this project will ensure that outcomes of this research are exploited directly to translate scientific outputs into practical improvements to current disease management strategies. Improved understanding of phoma stem canker epidemics caused by both pathogens and use of host resistance and effective fungicides for control them will benefit the scientific communities (e.g. Leptosphaeria Research Community and Brassica Research Community), because phoma stem canker is not only a disease problem on oilseed rape in the UK but also a global disease on oilseed rape and brassica vegetables.

In addition, this project will also provide training to young students in applied plant pathology, an area currently experiencing skill shortage in the UK (http://www.bspp.org.uk/news). The young applied plant pathologist trained by this project will benefit the UK agricultural industry and supports the UK Government's priority to prevent the spread of animal and plant diseases (https://www.gov.uk/government/news/combined-agency-tosafeguardanimal-and-plant-health).

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description This project is continuing work on the relative importance of two Leptosphaeria species in UK oilseed rape. It is now at the half way stage.
Exploitation Route The findings will be exploited by industry partners in the consortium
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink

 
Description Integrated control of Leptosphaeria pathogens on UK oilseed rape 
Organisation DuPont
Department DuPont (UK) Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Phoma stem canker is a major disease of oilseed rape in the UK, causing yield losses > £100M p.a. The disease is caused by two related pathogens that attack in different ways: Leptosphaeria maculans (Lm) and L. biglobosa (Lb). Current control focuses only on Lm. Recent work showed that Lb can cause substantial yield losses and is less sensitive to some triazole fungicides than Lm. The pathogen Lb is a growing threat to UK oilseed rape production since no existing methods control it. This project will investigate stem canker epidemics caused by Lb and develop new tools/strategies to control them. To achieve this, we will (1) survey severity of phoma stem canker epidemics caused by Lb; (2) exploit new oilseed rape genomic data to identify genes for resistance against Lb; (3) determine efficacy of new non-triazole fungicides for control of both Lb and Lm; and (4) use Lb genomic information to investigate mechanisms of fungicide insensitivity in Lb; (5) develop new integrated control strategies.
Collaborator Contribution Partners are involved in field trials and consortium meetings
Impact Huang YJ, Cai X, Karandeni-Dewage CS, Gajula LH, Javaid A, Li GQ, Fitt BDL (2016). Understanding phoma stem canker epidemics caused by Leptosphaeria biglobosa in the UK and China. Abstracts. Brassica 2016, 3-7 October 2016, Melbourne, Australia, p. 43. Javaid A, Gajula H, Fitt BDL, Huang YJ (2017) Investigating the risk of severe phoma stem canker caused by Leptosphaeria biglobosa on winter oilseed rape in UK. Crop Production in Southern Britain. Aspects of Applied Biology 134, 53-57.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Integrated control of Leptosphaeria pathogens on UK oilseed rape 
Organisation Hutchinson H L Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Phoma stem canker is a major disease of oilseed rape in the UK, causing yield losses > £100M p.a. The disease is caused by two related pathogens that attack in different ways: Leptosphaeria maculans (Lm) and L. biglobosa (Lb). Current control focuses only on Lm. Recent work showed that Lb can cause substantial yield losses and is less sensitive to some triazole fungicides than Lm. The pathogen Lb is a growing threat to UK oilseed rape production since no existing methods control it. This project will investigate stem canker epidemics caused by Lb and develop new tools/strategies to control them. To achieve this, we will (1) survey severity of phoma stem canker epidemics caused by Lb; (2) exploit new oilseed rape genomic data to identify genes for resistance against Lb; (3) determine efficacy of new non-triazole fungicides for control of both Lb and Lm; and (4) use Lb genomic information to investigate mechanisms of fungicide insensitivity in Lb; (5) develop new integrated control strategies.
Collaborator Contribution Partners are involved in field trials and consortium meetings
Impact Huang YJ, Cai X, Karandeni-Dewage CS, Gajula LH, Javaid A, Li GQ, Fitt BDL (2016). Understanding phoma stem canker epidemics caused by Leptosphaeria biglobosa in the UK and China. Abstracts. Brassica 2016, 3-7 October 2016, Melbourne, Australia, p. 43. Javaid A, Gajula H, Fitt BDL, Huang YJ (2017) Investigating the risk of severe phoma stem canker caused by Leptosphaeria biglobosa on winter oilseed rape in UK. Crop Production in Southern Britain. Aspects of Applied Biology 134, 53-57.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Integrated control of Leptosphaeria pathogens on UK oilseed rape 
Organisation Syntec Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Phoma stem canker is a major disease of oilseed rape in the UK, causing yield losses > £100M p.a. The disease is caused by two related pathogens that attack in different ways: Leptosphaeria maculans (Lm) and L. biglobosa (Lb). Current control focuses only on Lm. Recent work showed that Lb can cause substantial yield losses and is less sensitive to some triazole fungicides than Lm. The pathogen Lb is a growing threat to UK oilseed rape production since no existing methods control it. This project will investigate stem canker epidemics caused by Lb and develop new tools/strategies to control them. To achieve this, we will (1) survey severity of phoma stem canker epidemics caused by Lb; (2) exploit new oilseed rape genomic data to identify genes for resistance against Lb; (3) determine efficacy of new non-triazole fungicides for control of both Lb and Lm; and (4) use Lb genomic information to investigate mechanisms of fungicide insensitivity in Lb; (5) develop new integrated control strategies.
Collaborator Contribution Partners are involved in field trials and consortium meetings
Impact Huang YJ, Cai X, Karandeni-Dewage CS, Gajula LH, Javaid A, Li GQ, Fitt BDL (2016). Understanding phoma stem canker epidemics caused by Leptosphaeria biglobosa in the UK and China. Abstracts. Brassica 2016, 3-7 October 2016, Melbourne, Australia, p. 43. Javaid A, Gajula H, Fitt BDL, Huang YJ (2017) Investigating the risk of severe phoma stem canker caused by Leptosphaeria biglobosa on winter oilseed rape in UK. Crop Production in Southern Britain. Aspects of Applied Biology 134, 53-57.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Agri-Tech East REAP Conference Today's knowledge meets tomorrow's technology, 7 Nov 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Attendance at Agri-Tech East conference where one of our students gave an invited presentation
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Brassica 2018, Crucifer Genetics Workshop, St Malo, France 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact International workshop to discuss Brassica genetics; presented talks and posters
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description British Society for Plant Pathology conference, Warwick, Dec 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Attended British Society of Plant Pathology presidential conference, Warwick, with staff and post-graduate students from our group. Posters and oral presentations were made.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Genetic Improvement Network Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Talk on Oilseed Rape Genetic Improvement Network at Workshop for stakeholders of all GINs, organised by Defra, Feb 22 "016, Norwich
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description International Congress of Plant Pathology, Boston, USA, July/Aug 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This was an international conference. Attended with other staff and post-grad students from our group. Presented work as posters.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description OREGIN stakeholders forum, Elsoms, Spalding, Lincs, Nov 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Meeting of Oilseed Rape Genetic Improvement Network stakeholder forum, attended by industry and academic members of OREGIN.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Stand at Cereals 2017, Boothby Graffoe, Lincolnshire 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Presented research at University of Hertfordshire stand at this event
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Stand at Cereals' 2018, Duxford, Cambs 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Participated in University of Hertfordshire stand at Cereals' 2018, June 13-14 2018. Event attended by 1000s of farmers and other members of the agricultural industry, mostly from the UK but some from overseas
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Stand at Hutchinson's winter farming conference, Kingsgate Conference Centre, Peterborough, 15 Nov 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Manned stand to present our research to farming audience
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Talk at event organised by Felix Cobbold Trust, November 2015 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Talk at event organised by Felix Cobbold Charitable Trust, November 2015
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Talk. Arable crop disease control, climate change and food security. 30 Sept 2016; Hawkesbury Institute, University of Western Sydney, New South Wales, Australia 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Visit to Hawkesbury Institute to discuss collaboration which is now occurring
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Talk; Arable crop disease control, climate change and food security. 28 Sept 2016; University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Seminar at University of Western Australia which we visited to discuss collaboration
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Talks to U3A science groups in Watford and Hemel Hempstead, Herts, Sept/Oct 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Talks about arable crop diseases, climate change and food security to U3A science groups in Watford (60 participants) and Hemel Hempstead (40 participants).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018