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ARS Home » Midwest Area » West Lafayette, Indiana » Crop Production and Pest Control Research » Research » Research Project #438889

Research Project: Functional Analysis of Genes in the Wheat Pathogen Zymoseptoria Tritici

Location: Crop Production and Pest Control Research

Project Number: 5020-21220-019-17-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 1, 2020
End Date: Aug 31, 2021

Objective:
1. Identify candidate genes in the fungus that might be involved in pathogenicity or other biologically interesting traits through RNA sequencing or other methods. 2. Perform functional analyses by making knockout mutants or other approaches as appropriate. 3. Identify mutant phenotypes by growing under different conditions and by inoculating plants. 4. Perform bioinformatics analyses as needed to identify the likely functions of selected genes and to augment the existing annotations of the Zymoseptoria tritici reference genome sequence.

Approach:
Isolates of the relevant pathogens will be obtained as needed, and field, greenhouse and laboratory analyses of fungal growth and development will be used to test epidemiological models of disease progression in the field. Life cycles will be determined by monitoring the pathogens using naturally infected or inoculated plants in the field. Disease spread will be monitored to understand environmental effects using visual, molecular and/or remote-sensing approaches. Corn lines with differing levels of resistance will be identified and monitored under field conditions to analyze spatio-temporal aspects of disease expansion and increase understanding of the factors influencing the development of epidemics. Monitoring methods will be refined and different sampling strategies will be tested to predict epidemic development. Methods of culturing the pathogens, inoculating and phenotyping plants for disease resistance will be developed and used to score plants for resistance. This will be particularly difficult for the tar spot pathogen, which so far cannot be grown in culture. The results will be used to test models about epidemic development for predicting the best approaches for controlling the diseases in the field.