Breeding Fungus Resistant Oilseed Varities

Scientists have identified strains of oilseed plants that are resistant to the devastating fungal pathogen Sclerotinia.

AsianScientist (May 27, 2014) – An international team of researchers from Australia, China and India has established that oilseed varieties resistant to the devastating fungal disease Sclerotinia can be bred readily. This research has been published in the journal Euphytica.

Disease caused by Sclerotinia devastates yield in oilseeds such as canola, rapeseed and mustard. It has been one of the most difficult diseases to manage within the plant genus Brassica.

“Until now options have relied on cultural and, increasingly, fungicidal measures that are often unreliable, costly and environmentally undesirable,” said lead author Professor Barbetti from the University of Western Australia.

In the studies, three virulent Sclerotinia strains were used to infect a broad range of canola, rapeseed and mustard breeding populations from India and China. High levels of new, diverse, strain-specific resistances were found.

Even more importantly, the research team which included members from the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences and three agricultural universities in Huazhong, Haryana and Punjab, also identified plant genotypes that were strain-independent in their resistance expression. These genotypes are ideal for the development of varieties that are Sclerotinia-resistant across multiple strains.

“For the first time it is possible to identify and/or breed canola, rapeseed and mustard plants that display high levels of resistance consistently,” Barbetti said. “This outcome is exciting, as it can lead to the rapid development of new oilseed varieties resistant to Sclerotinia.”

These findings are particularly significant as previous efforts towards identifying and breeding effective host resistance had been hampered by the frequent occurrence of diverse Sclerotinia strains differing in virulence.

Barbetti also said that there was potential to develop such germplasm in India and China via the partnership.

“What is more, this research could be applied to identify high levels of resistance in other forage and vegetable Brassica types, thus offering commercial solutions for related industries,” he said.

The article can be found at: Barbetti et al. (2014) Comparative genotype reactions to Sclerotinia sclerotiorum within breeding populations of Brassica napus and B. juncea from India and China.


Source: University of Western Australia; Photo: Sajeewa Welendagoda/Flickr/CC.

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