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Targeting Mycotoxin resistance to control Fusarium Head Blight

Targeting Mycotoxin resistance to control Fusarium Head Blight

  • Start date: 2021
  • Project Length: 2 Years
  • Project Status: In Progress


Benefits to MB Producers: Fusarium head blight (FHB) is a disease caused by the Fusarium graminearum fungus that causes significant economic losses for barley producers. Generating barley varieties with enhanced FHB resistance is complex because multiple fungal compounds and plant genes influence disease severity. We recently discovered a fungal compound called gramillin that promotes FHB severity in barley and is toxic to plants, killing cells within hours. Gramillin resistance varies across Canadian barley varieties where the ‘Lowe’ malting variety is resistant to this toxin. By better understanding the mechanisms and genes involved in gramillin resistance, this work will enable breeders to track and transfer the gramillin resistance into elite barley varieties.

  • Objective 1: Identify suitable populations for mapping gramillin resistance and develop phenotyping methods. Integrating gramillin resistance into breeding programs requires first identifying and mapping genetic regions (molecular markers) that are associated with this trait. Luckily, several biparental mapping populations that have the gramillin-resistant Lowe genotype as a partental line are currently being developed. To determine which population to use, we must first test the gramillin sensitivity of the parental lines. We will also optimize our methods for comparing gramillin sensitivity to enable rapid high-throughput screening.
  • Objective 2: Evaluate relationships between gramillin resistance, FHB resistance and DON accumulation across varieties. While gramillin production is essential for the pathogen to produce full infection, it is not clear how gramillin resistance contributes to host resistance. We will interrogate this question using infection assays with mutant fungal strains lacking gramillin production.
  • Objective 3: Determine if gramillin degradation contributes to resistance in barley. Our preliminary work suggests that gramillin resistance in wheat is associated with degradation of the toxin. To determine if gramillin resistance in barley similarly involves gramillin degradation, we will use biochemical methods to characterize differences between lines and the identity of factors involved in this breakdown.
Manitoba Crop Alliance Funding:


Total Funding Approved:


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