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ARS Home » Midwest Area » St. Paul, Minnesota » Cereal Disease Lab » Research » Research Project #437198

Research Project: Barley Fusarium Head Blight Resistance Genomics

Location: Cereal Disease Lab

Project Number: 5062-21220-024-002-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Aug 1, 2020
End Date: Jul 31, 2025

Fusarium head blight disease (FHB) of wheat and barley is among the most important diseases of cereal crops both in the United States and worldwide. The disease not only causes serious yield reductions, but also contaminates the grain with harmful mycotoxins rendering it unsuitable for food or feed. Control of FHB and reduction of toxin levels has been difficult to achieve due to lack of highly effective host plant resistance. The specific objectives of this project are: 1) develop genomic resources for understanding Fusarium-barley interactions; 2) develop tools and resource to further improve barley and other cereal germplasm as it relates to FHB resistance; 3) characterize resistance gene homologs from cultivated and non-cultivated plants for deployment in barley; and 4) identify plant responses that target vital developmental pathways in the pathogen thus preventing disease or reducing levels of mycotoxin. The ultimate objective of this project is to enhance the resistance in barley and wheat cultivars FHB.

A project is being established to utilize existing resources to better understand barley interaction with Fusarium, accounting for possible variations in the pathogen population as it relates to different host genotypes and species, and possible mechanisms of resistance that could lead to a sustainable crop production environment. Phenomics in conjunction with genomics and transcriptome analysis will be used to dissect plant-pathogen interaction. Further analysis using genetic tools (such as mutant collection and genetic stocks) will be deployed to verify the results and determine the most efficient approach to developing resistant varieties. Genetic variation for resistance gene homologs will be characterized in barley and non-cultivated barley relatives with significant resistance to disease. These genes may be introgressed into barley by classical plant breeding or by cis- or transgenic approaches. Plant response to the pathogen will be studied with the goal of disrupting mycotoxin biosynthesis or pathogenesis.