INVESTIGATORS: Shavannor Smith (PI), Jeffrey L. Bennetzen, Katrien M. Devos
INSTITUTIONS: University of Georgia Athens
PROJECT SUMMARY: The classic approach to the study of the genetic basis of plant disease resistance has led to a great deal of crop improvement, especially in species like wheat where rust diseases are the major biotic limitation on food production. However, this genetic analysis, as pioneered by Flor, Hooker and Saxena and others, requires significant expertise in both plant pathology and genetics. Moreover, the establishment of a differential host series to distinguish pathogen races, and the collection/testing of pathogen isolates to allow the discovery and isolation of a spectrum of races, has traditionally been a multi-year undertaking. In the genomics era, if one can find a way to analyze a trait by DNA sequence analysis, then it is likely to be quicker, more definitive and more comprehensive than any other approach. Hence, one of the goals of this proposed project is to develop a new approach for characterization of field isolates of P. emaculata, where we combine classical and molecular methods to identify host resistance genes and pathogen avirulence loci, then use the gained knowledge to develop DNA sequence tools that will allow immediate field diagnostics. Our goals are to create a resource of specific P. emaculata races, to identify specific switchgrass resistance genes that act against these specific P. emaculata races, to discover candidate effector genes in the pathogen that interact with specific switchgrass resistance genes, and to develop and to test our models of these interactions on switchgrass cultivars infected with field rust isolates.
Name: Smith, Shavannor