Genes to reduce plant height without increasing disease

Lead Research Organisation: John Innes Centre
Department Name: Contracts Office

Abstract

Recent research has highlighted the negative relationship between reduced plant height in wheat conferred by the ‘Green Revolution’ semi-dwarfing (Rht) genes and resistance to some diseases, in particular Fusarium head blight (FHB).
This project will use a number of parallel approaches to identify new allele controlling plant height (PH) to counter the negative effect of height reducing alleles on major wheat diseases such as FHB.
1) Two novel height loci on chromosomes 2D and 3A will be characterized for their influence on FHB and other important wheat diseases.
2) Populations with parents differing for FHB resistance but with the same Rht alleles (Rht1 or Rht2) will be screened to identify quantitative trait loci (QTL) that enhance resistance to FHB in the presence of these height reducing alleles.
3) Height mutants identified within a mutagenised population of wheat cultivar Paragon will be screened for disease resistance against FHB and other important diseases.
These studies will identify alternative semi-dwarfing genes that can provide plant breeders with the desired plant height agronomic character while not compromising other important traits such as disease resistance, in particular FHB.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description It is widely accepted that tall wheat varieties are more resistant to Fusarium head blight (FHB) than short ones. We have examined FHB susceptibility in wheat lines that differ in height because of genetic differences in various genes. We confirmed that, in general, taller lines are more resistant than shorter ones. We have, however found that some differences appear to affect FHB susceptibility more than others suggesting the altered FHB susceptibility is not due just to the altered height but that the mechanisms behind these height differences may also be affecting disease resistance.

We examined FHB resistance in two wheat populations in which the parent lines in each case carried the same major height genes but differed significantly in FHB resistance. We showed that in one population the resistant parent contained many genes of minor effect against the disease while in the other population the resistant parent contained a few genes of major effect. The latter type of resistance can be followed in wheat breeding programmes to increase the ability of breeders to produce wheat varieties that are highly resistant to FHB.
Exploitation Route We are providing our information to participating breeding companies to assist them in selecting lines with the desired short stature that minimise the negative effect on susceptibility to FHB.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink

 
Description A potent QTL for FHB resistance has been identified in a French wheat variety and molecular markers associated with the resistance have been identified. This information is being used by a consortium of breeders to enhance FHB disease resistance in their varieties.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink
Impact Types Economic

 
Description AHDB
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Membership of a guideline committee
 
Description Food safety
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
 
Title Paragon deletion mapping 
Description A panel of 2000 lines of gamma-ray irradiated Paragon spring wheat has been advanced to M4. DNA has been isolated from 650 lines and subjected to skim-sequencing to enable the rapid identification of lines carrying deletions in specific regions of the genome. Such lines are very valuable resources for defining regions containing genes controlling traits of interest and the function of gene clusters. 
Type Of Material Technology assay or reagent 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact The tool has allowed us to refine the region containing a gene of interest from one of over 31 Mbp, containing 274 high confidence genes to one containing less than 10 genes. The tool allows the rapid fine-mapping of regions of interest with minimal need for marker development. 
 
Description Secobra 
Organisation Secobra Recherche
Country France 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution information on the relationship between plant height and disease susceptibility
Collaborator Contribution Germplasm and field trial testing of populations
Impact new sources of resistance to Fusarium head blight
Start Year 2012
 
Description AHDB Fusarium ratings 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact I was invited to act an expert/consultant in Fusarium head blight (FHB) to provide guidance to AHDB on the appropriate testing systems and assessment systems required for determining the FHB resistance ratings for UK wheat varieties that enter the Recommended List.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description BASF visit 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Presentation to BASF scientists involved in plant protection and biotechnology on current research on fusarium head blight and opportunities for collaboration with scientists at JIC across a broad spectrum of plant and microbial research relevant to the area of crop protection.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Breeder day 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Presentations to invited individuals from the wheat breeding and food/feed beverage supply chain
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015,2016,2017
 
Description Dutch students 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Presentation of work on importance of research on disease resistance
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016,2017,2018
 
Description European Fusarium Seminar 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Over 200 delegates from across the globe attended the meeting. My presentation sparked many questions and further discussions on the implications of our findings for improving the resistance of wheat to FHB and reducing the risk of mycotoxins accumulating in grain and posing a threat to consumers
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description FSOV 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Discuss wheat disease resistance genetics with members of a consortium of French Breeding companies.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Fusarium head blight RAGT 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact The potential of increasing resistance to Fusarium head blight by eliminating susceptibility factors rather than the conventional approach of introducing resistance factors was discussed at length. This approach stimulated much interest as a means to tackle a disease where there is a paucity of effecive resistance
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Limagrain wheat disease 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Discussion led to Liamgrain supporting iCASE PhD proposal (successful)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016,2017
 
Description School teacher education 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact The activity involved a presentation and discussion with school teachers on the importance and relevance of plant disease in a historical and current context. The activity is aimed at providing teachers who are not experts in plant pathology to effectively provide all the relevant information required within the A-level curriculum to their students
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description school visit 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Delivery of the plant disease and host disease resistance components of the A level curriculum to A'level students. This was delivered alongside a presentation on the impact of plant disease on human civilisation throughout history and efforts to combat disease through plant breeding.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018