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ARS Home » Plains Area » Fargo, North Dakota » Edward T. Schafer Agricultural Research Center » Sunflower Improvement Research » Research » Research Project #444496

Research Project: NSI: Identifying Genetic Determinants of Sclerotinia sclerotiorum Aggressiveness Across Crop Species

Location: Sunflower Improvement Research

Project Number: 3060-21220-034-029-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Jul 1, 2023
End Date: Dec 31, 2025

This proposal aims to broaden genetic strategies for disease management of Sclerotinia sclerotiorum. Investigators will identify and target relevant pathogen aggressiveness genes for silencing. These goals will be achieved using the following objectives: 1) characterize a wide range of Sclerotinia sclerotiorum isolates for aggressiveness across economically important crops; and 2) identify candidate pathogenicity genes that are conserved across crop plants using transcriptomics.

The first objective will be accomplished by building an isolate collection from multiple crops grown in various regions where white mold results in crop yield loss; comparing the aggressiveness of these isolates on multiple crops (including canola, dry bean, sunflower, and soybean); and identifying isolates that are consistently low, moderately, and highly aggressive on a wide range of crop plants for screening and genetic characterization. The second objective will be pursued by conducting RNA extractions, cDNA library preparation, and RNA sequencing of pathogen isolates that are highly versus mildly aggressive on multiple crop species; and by identifying existing and novel, potential pathogenicity factors of S. sclerotiorum that are present in interactions with multiple hosts through alignments of enriched transcripts with fungal genes.