Using field pathogenomics to study wheat yellow rust dispersal and population dynamics at a national and international scale

Lead Research Organisation: Earlham Institute
Department Name: UNLISTED


Wheat yellow rust caused by the fungus Puccinia striiformis f. sp tritici is a substantial threat to wheat production worldwide and recently re-emerged as a major constraint on UK agriculture. Its importance to global food security is reflected by the significant contribution of wheat to the calorific and protein intake of human kind (approximately 20%). The devastating impact of this disease gives a deep sense of urgency to breeders, farmers and end users to improve surveillance. The overall aim of this project is to apply our recently developed “field pathogenomics” genomics-based pathogen surveillance technique to the surveillance of yellow rust, and undertake comprehensive global population genetic analyses of this important plant pathogen.
The proposed research aims to: (1) Analyze the threat of potential exotic incursions of wheat yellow rust to the UK by mapping the global population structure, (2) exploit rust pathogen genotype data to confirm outbreaks on particular wheat varieties and look for associations between pathogen genotypes and host pedigrees, (3) generate information on whether genotypic diversity shifts over time at a locality and whether early appearing rust genotypes are predictive of late season genotypes and (4) develop appropriate open-source tools to ensure all data generated herein is released into the public domain as soon as possible and in a format that is suitable for breeders, pathologists and the wider demographic. This project aims to equip the UK with the latest genomic tools, facilitate more efficient varietal development by breeders, and help reduce the environmental and economic costs associated with fungicide applications, all of which will have a positive impact on the overall competitiveness and sustainability of the UK arable industry.


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