For growers of sunflowers and six other crops, the
National Sclerotinia Initiative aims to reduce the hundreds of millions of
dollars worth of annual damage from the disease. Click the image for more
information about it.
Meeting Showcases Anti-Sclerotinia Research
Suszkiw January 18, 2006
A genomic map, disease-resistant beans and other research achievements
are being presented January 18-20 during the sixth annual meeting of the
Initiative, hosted by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in Bloomington, Minn.
Sclerotinia is a fungal disease, caused by Sclerotinia
sclerotiorum, affecting more than 400 species of broadleaf plants. Since
2002, ARS has led a multistate, multiorganization effort to counterattack the
fungus on three fronts: epidemiology; development of resistance in germplasm;
and chemical, biological or cultural control.
The initiative aims to protect seven crops that growers across the
country are increasingly including in their rotation schemes: sunflowers,
soybeans, canola, dry edible beans, chickpeas, lentils and dry peas. Poor
genetic resistance to Sclerotinia in these crops costs up to $280 million
annually in degraded quality and reduced yields, notes
Chandler, associate director for the ARS
Plains Area headquarters in Fort Collins, Colo.
During the meeting, participants from more than 14 universities and 11
trade groups, ranging from the American
Soybean Association to the U.S. Dry
Bean Council, will discuss the progress to date, as well as identify future
research plans and needs through 2009, according to Chandler, the Sclerotinia
initiative's ARS coordinator.
Accomplishments to date include development of Sclerotinia
risk-assessment maps that dry bean and canola producers can use to implement
disease-management strategies; development of dry bean and lentil germplasm
lines or cultivars that resist Sclerotinia; uses for the beneficial fungus
Coniothyrium minitans as a biological pesticide product; genetically
modified soybeans that produce an antifungal peptide against Sclerotinia; and
the public release of the sequence for 14,552 of the fungus' genes. The
database enables Sclerotinia researchers to search for genes by name, genomic
location, their associated proteins and other information.
For more details, as well as recent abstracts, visit the National
Sclerotinia Initiative web
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.