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ARS Home » Midwest Area » West Lafayette, Indiana » Crop Production and Pest Control Research » Research » Research Project #440977

Research Project: Developing New Technologies for Improving Resistance to Fusarium Head Blight

Location: Crop Production and Pest Control Research

Project Number: 5020-21220-014-019-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Aug 1, 2021
End Date: Jul 31, 2023

Objective:
1. RNA-Interference Targeting of Fungal Genes for Enhancing Fusarium head blight (FHB) Resistance. 2. Wheat Variants Deficient in a FHB Susceptibility Factor. 3. Spherical Nucleic Acid Nanomaterials as Fungicide and FHB Resistance-promoting Agents.

Approach:
1. Test hypothesis that host-induced gene silencing (HIGS) of Fusarium graminearum effector genes will adversely impact pathogenicity and thus promote FHB resistance in wheat. Two fungal virulence factor-encoding genes will be targeted for HIGS in wheat and the effects on FHB resistance in wheat will be determined. 2. Test whether (i) the FHB resistance promoting effect of the gene knockdown is also effective in wheat backgrounds other than Bobwhite, (ii) one or more homeolog(s) in wheat contribute towards susceptibility to Fusarium graminearum, and (iii) nonsense and/or missense variants can provide a non-GMO strategy that in the future can be utilized by breeding programs. Several TILLING mutants that cover these homeologs have already been identified in individual hexaploid and tetraploid wheat varieties. The response to Fusarium graminearum in backcrossed progeny of these variants will be characterized and wheat lines containing mutant combinations at more than one homeologous gene loci will be developed and characterized with respect to their response to Fusarium graminearum. 3. Develop novel spherical nucleic acid (SNA) nanomaterial-based technology to control FHB. SNA nanomaterials will be developed as fungicides that selectively target F. graminearum growth, viability, and virulence, and as agents that target susceptibility genes to promote plant resistance to FHB. siRNA sequence candidates that effectively target silencing of F. graminearum genes involved in growth, viability and virulence, and wheat genes involved in susceptibility to FHB will be identified. Lipid-based SNA nanoparticles will then be synthesized and evaluated for efficacy in knocking down the target gene(s).