Genes may prevent Septoria tritici blotch disease in wheat
Professor Kim Hammond-Kosack of Rothamsted Research said: “There is a long symptomless infection phase of between 7 to 14 days, which is followed by rapid deterioration of the leaf tissue. This life cycle of the disease makes it difficult to identify and apply curative control methods before it is too late for the crop. Having identified the molecules that are involved in this interaction in wheat we can now think of different ways that we can develop to detect the presence of the pathogen and to stop symptoms arising before the effect of the disease on crop performance, final grain yield and final grain quality is too costly for the farmers”.
Jason Rudd, Ph.D., of Rothamsted said: “This work has identified two genes that are already present in wheat which are perfectly able to provide resistance against STB. The remaining problem, and the reason why they currently don’t do this in the field, resides in the fact that the fungus contains a single gene that prevents the two wheat genes from functioning. On this basis it is extraordinary that only three genes in total (two from wheat and one from the fungus) can decide the outcome of the interaction. Their identification opens the way to future biotechnological approaches that could be used to either enhance (for wheat genes) or inhibit (for the pathogen gene) their functions to favour the disease-free plant.”
In addition, Professor Kim Hammond-Kosack of Rothamsted Research said: “A closely related fungus Mycosphaerella fijiensis causes the globally important Black Sigatoka disease that can devastate banana plantations in just a few months. The similarity between the wheat and the banana pathogen’s mode of leaf infection suggests that this new knowledge on wheat defence could have potential application in the protection of banana crops.”