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ARS Home » Midwest Area » St. Paul, Minnesota » Cereal Disease Lab » Research » Research Project #441767

Research Project: Plant-Fungal Interactions and Host Resistance in Fusarium Head Blight of Barley and Wheat

Location: Cereal Disease Lab

Project Number: 5062-21220-024-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Mar 17, 2022
End Date: Mar 16, 2027

Objective 1: Investigate the biology of FHB infection, mycotoxin accumulation, and pathogenesis in the barley-Fusarium and related pathosystems. (NP303, C2, PS2A). This will include screening wheat lines for infection by Fusarium graminearum and accumulation of mycotoxins as well as detailed analysis of pathogen infection and process of toxin accumulation. • Sub-objective 1.A. Determine the protein content, spatial architecture, and functional significance of the toxin biosynthetic apparatus in Fusarium graminearum. • Sub-objective 1.B. Test for differentiation of the endoplasmic reticulum for specific primary and secondary terpenoid metabolite pathways upon trichothecene induction. Objective 2: Characterize pathogen diversity by studying natural fungal populations. • Sub-objective 2.A. Test for population subdivision among strains of F. graminearum isolated from native grasses versus those collected as pathogens on wheat or barley. Objective 3: Develop novel strategies for disease resistance in durum wheat and barley. • Sub-objective 3.A. Characterize the gene expression pattern changes in FHB resistant durum cultivars produced by removal of CG methylation. • Sub-objective 3.B. Characterize the genetic transmission of mutated loci and develop molecular markers for use in cultivar improvement.

Understanding how pathogens produce toxins and cause disease on different hosts can lead to improved management strategies for disease control. Specific approaches include: 1) Protein tagging, advanced microscopy, and protein-protein interaction techniques will be used to characterize multi-enzyme complexes involved in toxin biosynthesis and fungal pathogenesis; 2) FHB levels, strain diversity, and the nature of associated fungal communities, will be monitored by population genetic and metagenomic approaches improving the ability to forecast the economic impact and the design of effective management strategies; and 3) Novel sources of FHB resistance and mycotoxin tolerance will be developed and characterized for crop plants.