Project summary: European apple canker (Neonectria dittisima) is one of the most destructive diseases of apples. The fungus attacks trees, causing cankers resulting in loss of fruiting wood and tree death. A current AHDB project (TF223) led by EMR is conducting applied, close to market research to provide growers with short to medium term control options to this disease. However, for long term and sustainable control of this disease there is a need to increase our understanding of the biology of the pathogen and the interaction between pathogen and host. Towards this end EMR are developing two interlinked proposals for BBSRC LINK projects. Applications require collaborative research with industry and science-base partners and industry contributions are matched by government funding. One proposal will seek to understand pathogen virulence and host resistance which will ultimately lead to the development of markers for breeding programmes. Whilst the other will seek to understand the infection process and subsequent colonisation and disease expression. This concept note refers to the latter which will be achieved through the following work packages; (1) utilise tools to track the infection and colonisation process, (2) determine the endophytic profile of apple at different stages of disease development, (3) Determine the inter relationship of biotic and abiotic factors leading to disease expression.
Benefits to industry:
The knowledge gained from this fundamental research will provide avenues for exploitation with the aim to reduce infection in the nursery, increase detection of asymptomatic infection and increase survival of trees with latent infection in the vulnerable early establishment phase. The ultimate benefit to growers will be reduced economic loss resulting from this disease.