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Agricultural scientists turn to a wild oat to combat crown rust

Date:
February 8, 2010
Source:
USDA/Agricultural Research Service
Summary:
Scientists are tapping into the DNA of a wild oat, considered by some to be a noxious weed, to see if it can help combat crown rust, the most damaging fungal disease of oats worldwide.

Plant pathologist Martin Carson (left) and technician Jerry Ochocki inspect crown rust infections on common buckthorn, an alternate host. Multiple varieties of oats are planted between rows of infected buckthorn to determine which varieties can resist crown rust.
Credit: Photo by Stephen Ausmus

Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists are tapping into the DNA of a wild oat, considered by some to be a noxious weed, to see if it can help combat crown rust, the most damaging fungal disease of oats worldwide.

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Crown rust reduces oat yields up to 40 percent and shows a remarkable ability to adapt to varieties bred to genetically resist it. ARS researchers and colleagues have inserted individual resistance genes into oat varieties that produce proteins believed to recognize strains of crown rust and trigger a defense response against them. "Multiline" cultivars with several resistance genes also have been developed.

Crown rust is caused by Puccinia coronata, a fungus that reproduces both sexually and asexually and has enough genetic flexibility to overcome resistance genes, usually in about five years, according to Martin L. Carson, research leader at the ARS Cereal Disease Laboratory in St. Paul, Minn. His analysis also shows crown rust is increasing in virulence throughout North America.

Carson has turned to awild variety, Avena barbata, for new genes with effective resistance. The slender oat, listed as a noxious weed in Missouri and classified as moderately invasive in California, grows wild in South Asia, much of Europe and around the Mediterranean region.

Carson inoculated A. barbata seedlings with crown rust. After several crosses, he found seedlings highly resistant to a variety of crown rust strains. In ongoing studies, he is crossing them with the domestic oat, A. sativa, to try to develop the right blend of resistance and desirable traits, such as high yield and drought tolerance. The goal is new plant lines that will effectively fight off crown rust for many years.

The research, which supports the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) priority of promoting international food security, was published in the journal Plant Disease.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by USDA/Agricultural Research Service. The original article was written by Dennis O'Brien. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

USDA/Agricultural Research Service. "Agricultural scientists turn to a wild oat to combat crown rust." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 February 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100204144545.htm>.
USDA/Agricultural Research Service. (2010, February 8). Agricultural scientists turn to a wild oat to combat crown rust. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100204144545.htm
USDA/Agricultural Research Service. "Agricultural scientists turn to a wild oat to combat crown rust." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100204144545.htm (accessed December 18, 2014).

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