The long-term goal of research conducted in the Small Grains Fungal Pathology Laboratory is to increase the level of resistance in cereal crops to foliar diseases caused by fungi, other than rusts. The principal focus of the lab currently is on the Septoria diseases of wheat. The lab is located within the Crop Production and Pest Control Research Unit of the Agricultural Research Service, on the Purdue University campus, West Lafayette, Indiana, and was established June 1995.
Foliar fungal pathogens pose significant threats to grain crop production. Septoria diseases of wheat cause economically significant yield losses in most of the wheat-growing areas of the world. Losses can range from 30 to 50% in climates conducive to disease development. Sources of resistance to the Septoria diseases of wheat have been identified and provide some measure of control. However, very little is known about the molecular and genetic mechanisms of disease resistance, and almost nothing is known about the mechanisms of virulence in the pathogens, Phaeosphaeria (Septoria) nodorum and Mycosphaerella graminicola (aka Septoria tritici). A clear understanding of the genetic and molecular basis for host-pathogen interactions will be needed to protect wheat against these diseases in the future.