Location
The molecular basis of pathogenicity of Neonectria ditissima

Research

CP 141 - The molecular basis of pathogenicity of Neonectria ditissima

Start Date: 
01/10/2015
Completion Date: 
30/09/2018
Project Leader: 
Richard Harrison
Code: 
CP 141

Industry Representative: Tony Harding, World Wide Fruit

AHDB Cost: £68,577.00

Total Project Cost£78,577.00

SummaryThis work will provide fundamental insights into the molecular basis of pathogenicity in N. ditissima, the causative agent of apple canker. The student will first extend and deploy an accurate and quantifiable automated pathogenicity test (and image analysis method) to measure differences in pathogenicity of isolates and resistance to different pathogen isolates. They will then conduct a gene expression analysis to identify similarities and differences in infection of isolates of differing virulence on susceptible and resistant hosts. Through bioinformatic comparison of isolates of N. ditissima gathered worldwide a set of candidate genes important in virulence will be established and gene disruption techniques will be used in order to determine the role of these genes in infection. This is important, as downstream application of resistance genes depends upon an accurate assessment of their durability (and hence targets). WFL and EMS, the industry contacts for this PhD are operating a new generation of breeding programme, that directly translates basic science into the applied sector and requires students with more basic skill sets to move into this industry.

Furthermore, knowledge of effector targets in the pathogen could lead to novel opportunities for control by targeted disruption of the pathogen. This PhD will provide a foundation for multinational collaboration to work towards this objective. It will cement the relationship between Plant and Food NZ and UK researchers working on control of canker and further advance a global collaboration into control of this important pathogen. 
 
Aims and ObjectivesThis work will provide fundamental insights into the molecular basis of pathogenicity in N. ditissima, the causative agent of apple canker. This is important, as downstream application of resistance genes depends upon an accurate assessment of their durability (and hence targets). WFL and EMS, the industry contacts for this PhD are operating a new generation of breeding programme, that directly translates basic science into the applied sector and require students with more basic skill sets to move into this industry. Furthermore, knowledge of effector targets in the pathogen could lead to novel opportunities for control by targeted disruption of the pathogen. This PhD will provide a foundation for multinational collaboration to work towards this objective. 
 
Benefits to Industry: The benefits are multiple. First, the understanding of the pathogen will aid resistance breeding for canker, a primary objective of the WFL/ EMS breeding programme. This is important as in future it will lead to control of canker through the deployment of natural resistance, in varieties with high fruit quality. Understnding more about the pathogenicity will aid the pyramiding of resistance genes and the deployment of other traits related to field resistance of canker.