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Genomic Science Program

Systems Biology for Energy and the Environment

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Genomic Science Program

2015 Awardee

Physiological and Molecular-Genetic Characterization of Basal Resistance in Sorghum

INVESTIGATORS: Peter Balint-Kurti (PI), Gary Stacey

INSTITUTIONS: North Carolina State University Raleigh, University of Missouri Columbia

PROJECT SUMMARY: Plants recognize certain conserved microbial molecules (microbe-associated molecular patterns or MAMPs) and mount a basal defense response called MAMP-triggered immunity (MTI) that limits subsequent colonization. In many cases, the basal defense response is believed to be responsible for non-host resistance: the phenomenon whereby most plants are resistant to most microbial pathogens. Furthermore, there is some evidence that MTI may be involved with quantitative disease resistance, resistance which although partial, tends to be extremely durable. While much is known about MTI in model species, this is not the case for crop plants. Furthermore, naturally-occurring variation in the MTI response within a species and its relationship to quantitative disease resistance is not well understood. This proposal seeks to:

  • Develop robust assays to measure the MAMP response and disease resistance in sorghum.
  • Screen a set of diverse sorghum germplasm for variation in the MAMP response and disease resistance.
  • Identify genes differentially regulated during the MAMP response in high and low responding sorghum genotypes.
  • Assess the effect of MTI on disease progression in sorghum.
  • Identify loci associated with variation in disease resistance and the MAMP response.

This project builds on our work investigating the genetics controlling the Arabidopsis and soybean MAMP response and on characterizing maize quantitative disease resistance. We will make extensive use of available resources for sorghum genomics and quantitative genetics; such as, the genome sequence and the sorghum nested association mapping (NAM) population. Responses to multiples MAMPs and disease resistance will be measured in both juvenile and adult plants. Disease resistance assays will be conducted both in the field and under controlled environments.

The cultivation of sorghum is expected to increase substantially in the southeast and central regions of the US in the next decade as it becomes more prominent as a biomass crop. As the practices and geographical areas under sorghum cultivation change, it is inevitable that new disease challenges will be encountered. This project will provide us with greater understanding of the genetic architecture controlling sorghum basal disease resistance and its connection to quantitative disease resistance. It will identify loci and alleles that will be helpful for breeders in producing more robust sorghum lines designed for biomass production. Ultimately, the knowledge gained will inform efforts to improve basal immunity in the field.

PROJECT CONTACT:
Name: Balint-Kurti, Peter
Phone: 919-515-3516
Email: pjbalint@ncsu.edu

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