Developing new methods to assess resistance to disease in young oilseed rape plants

Jan 28, 2014
Credit: Baum im Feld von Petr Kratochvi

Being able to measure resistance to disease in young oilseed rape plants is vital in the battle to breed new disease resistant varieties of the crop, and is the focus of a study by a team of researchers led by the University of Hertfordshire.

The battle against phoma stem canker

Oilseed rape is prone to phoma stem canker, also known as blackleg disease, which is responsible for losses worth more than £1,200 million in oilseed rape crops across the world. With the fragile state of the world's economy and concern over food shortages, there is a need to protect arable crops from disease. However, assessing disease resistance in young oilseed rape plants is difficult as there is a long period where the pathogen is not visible – it can infect plants and continue to grow without showing symptoms.

Greater inbuilt resistance needed

Bruce Fitt, professor of plant pathology at the University of Hertfordshire, said: "Plant disease epidemics are bad news for farmers. There has been a heavy reliance on fungicides to control disease but some of the most effective fungicides are now being withdrawn through EU regulations. So there is a need to develop oilseed crop varieties with greater inbuilt resistance to the disease.

"Although oilseed rape crops in the UK are bred for disease resistance, it is a difficult and expensive process – both in time and money – to develop new disease resistant varieties."

Traditionally, selection of disease resistant oilseed crops has relied on field assessments of disease severity on stems, which are made towards the end of the cropping season when the symptoms have become visible on the adult plants – typically about eleven months after sowing. Crops also need to be grown at various sites to assess the impact of location on disease resistance – adding yet more cost and time to the assessment.

Assessing disease resistance in young oilseed rape plants

Professor Fitt continued: "If resistance can be assessed in young oilseed rape plants, it will not only accelerate the process of breeding oilseed rape crops for resistance but will also save money for the industry. Our study investigates new methods for assessing in young plants."

The paper, based on experiments done by Dr Yong-Ju Huang at Rothamsted Research, shows that resistance in young oilseed rape plants can be detected in controlled conditions - and suggests that the methods should be further evaluated to develop techniques which can be reliably used by breeders to select for quantitative resistance in young plants. This will not only save money but also accelerate the process of breeding for resistance.

Explore further: Protecting vital crops in China

More information: Huang Y-J, Qi A, King GJ, Fitt BDL (2014) Assessing Quantitative Resistance against Leptosphaeria maculans (Phoma Stem Canker) in Brassica napus (Oilseed Rape) in Young Plants. PLoS ONE 9(1): e84924. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0084924

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Protecting vital crops in China

Nov 29, 2013

Evidence of disease in oilseed rape crops across China and how it may spread has been mapped by researchers led by the University of Hertfordshire - providing new strategic information on crop protection to the Chinese government.

Researchers describe mechanism for plant virus resistance

Jan 14, 2014

(Phys.org) —Scientists have described a mechanism conferring resistance in brassica plants to Turnip mosaic virus, a discovery which it is hoped will lead to durable resistance being introduced into food crops, including ...

Researchers find protein to up yield from oilseed crops

Mar 26, 2012

(PhysOrg.com) -- Researchers at Montana State University have developed a protein that can be expressed in oilseed crops to increase the oil yield by as much as 40 percent, a development that could have an impact on the biodiesel ...

New technology eliminates plant toxins

Aug 05, 2012

Plants produce toxins to defend themselves against potential enemies, from herbivorous pests to diseases. Oilseed rape plants produce glucosinolates to serve this purpose. However, due to the content of glucosinolates, farmers ...

Recommended for you

Chrono, the last piece of the circadian clock puzzle?

8 hours ago

All organisms, from mammals to fungi, have daily cycles controlled by a tightly regulated internal clock, called the circadian clock. The whole-body circadian clock, influenced by the exposure to light, dictates the wake-sleep ...

Drought hormones measured

8 hours ago

Floods and droughts are increasingly in the news, and climate experts say their frequency will only go up in the future. As such, it is crucial for scientists to learn more about how these extreme events affect plants in ...

Research traces the genetic print of the Asturian people

16 hours ago

The DNA of the people of Asturias still maintains the genetic prints of remote ages. A research conducted at the University of Oviedo proves that the old frontiers marked by the pre-Roman Astur settlements have left their ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Low Vitamin D may not be a culprit in menopause symptoms

A new study from the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) shows no significant connection between vitamin D levels and menopause symptoms. The study was published online today in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopa ...

Astronomers: 'Tilt-a-worlds' could harbor life

A fluctuating tilt in a planet's orbit does not preclude the possibility of life, according to new research by astronomers at the University of Washington, Utah's Weber State University and NASA. In fact, ...