Protecting our bread wheat against Septoria with disease resistance genes from wild relatives (WULFF_J17DTP)

Lead Research Organisation: University of East Anglia
Department Name: Graduate Office

Abstract

The wild ancestors of domesticated wheat represent an extraordinarily diverse source of genetic variation for improving disease resistance in wheat. Identification and manipulation of key genes underpinning this variation will help to sustainably increase yields and secure global food security.

In recent years the Septoria fungus has emerged as a major pathogen of wheat in many wheat growing regions across the world. Septoria is controlled by a combination of genetic resistance and fungicides. However, the fungus has evolved insensitivity to all three major classes of fungicide, and, as a result, some countries are on the verge of abandoning bread wheat cultivation altogether.

This PhD project will employ laboratory pathology experiments, field trials, molecular genetics and bioinformatics to characterise a suite of wheat lines containing whole chromosomes transferred from wild relatives of wheat into domesticated wheat, imparting (near-)complete immunity to Septoria. State-of-the-art enabling tools, including mutational genomics and high-throughput sequence-complexity reduction [1], will be used to clone a key Septoria resistance gene. Our overarching long-term objective is to understand the genetic basis of Septoria immunity in wild wheat and engineer this resistance into cultivated bread wheat.

Publications

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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
BB/M011216/1 01/10/2015 30/09/2023
1917963 Studentship BB/M011216/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2021 Amber Hafeez
 
Description Co-organiser of a stall and volunteer at the Norwich Science Treasure Hunt (British Science Association) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Involved in planning the Norwich Treasure Hunt with other committee members of the British Science Association Norwich Branch. Took the lead on designing a stall centred around "Sustainable Food", including a game teaching young audiences about the ability of more diverse cropping systems to increase resilience to biotic and abiotic stresses.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Crop Genetics stand at the Norwich Science Festival (Learning Week) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Theme of exhibit: 'How to feed the world'. Included the quiz: 'match the product and seeds to the plant' and also an interactive exhibit looking at plants down the microscope. Aim was to engage students in thinking about which plants their everyday food products come from and why studying them is important.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Science outreach to adults with special educational needs at the Stepping Stones charity 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact Members of the British Science Association Norwich Branch visited SEN adults at Stepping Stones, Norwich, to increase awareness of the science in their everyday lives. This included a session on the microbes that we interact with and why it is important to wash thoroughly and two sessions based around the plants and microbes present in the Stepping Stones allotment and what their functions are, including how compost is made.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Spring Fling at the Norfolk Showground 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Volunteered with the JIC Communications and Outreach team and others from JIC to run a stall to raise awareness of the work carried out at JIC through games/activities. This included designing a "Build-a-bug" game, with the aim of allowing young participants to mix and match the body parts of crop pests to open discussion of how these make the insects well-adapted to feeding on crops, and what impact this has.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Year 10 Science Camp 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Helped at the Year 10 Camp run by the JIC COMMs team. Gave a presentation to year 10 students on my work with speed breeding and how this technology can apply to research and agriculture and helped students with lab practicals.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019