Disease-resistant superfoods that benefit the environment (RIDOUT_J17ICASE)

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


Baby Leaf Kale (Brassica oleracea, BLK) has been popularised as a super food through the growing health awareness and weight loss movement in the USA and Europe. The use of BLK in a wide range of packaged food and drinks' products globally has more than trebled in recent years and the global kale market is currently worth circa £150 million. One of the major challenges facing BLK production is downy mildew (Peronospora parasitica) which can spread rapidly through the crop and render it unsaleable, a threat increasing due to the imminent withdrawal of agrochemicals for environmental reasons.

An effective way of controlling diseases without chemicals is through the use of resistance genes which can be bred into cultivars. Major 'R' gene resistance can provide effective disease control and has been widely used in horticulture. However, this type of resistance can be susceptible to 'break-down' due to pathogen evolution. Quantitative disease resistance (QDR) can also be effective and is considered more likely to be durable and long-lasting than R-gene mediated resistance. This project investigates both R-gene resistance and QDR in BLK so that they can be used in combination to provide effective and durable resistance.

The project involves the genetic mapping of both R and QDR mediated resistance to identify genetic markers for breeding resistance to downy mildew. The student will learn a variety of plant pathology procedures and perform genetic mapping to identify resistance gene loci. They will also evaluate early resistance responses to conserved pathogen associated molecular patterns to evaluate their contribution to QDR using genome-wide association studies (GWAS) involving next generation sequencing to accelerate breeding marker development.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
BB/M011216/1 01/10/2015 30/09/2023
1940795 Studentship BB/M011216/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2021 Abraham Gómez Gutiérrez