- Agronomic: oats
- Crop Production: plant breeding and genetics
- Pest Management: genetic resistance
The North-Central region is the top producer of oats in the United States. However, oat production in this region is constrained by crown rust disease caused by the fungus Puccinia coronata, the most devastating disease of oat worldwide. Epidemics in the recent years have caused production losses of up to 50%. This project aims to minimize these losses by developing new oat germplasm that are resistant to crown rust. As an initial step, crosses of resistant wild relative and susceptible cultivated parents were made to develop eight mapping populations to guide genetic mapping efforts. These populations will be evaluated in field plots for resistance, and SNP markers will be developed to map the locations of genes or loci contributing to this trait. Once candidate genes are identified from different populations, multiple parents will be crossed to pyramid these genes. When advanced, the pyramided lines and associated linked markers will be forwarded to breeders for inclusion in their oat varietal improvement programs. Learning outcomes include knowledge enhancement about sources of resistance and plant immune mechanisms accessible to plant pathologists and breeders. The evaluation plan for these outcomes will be based on the number of seminars or presentations given and number of reads/downloads and citations of published papers. Action outcomes will be the use of this project’s germplasm by breeders to develop new oat varieties and adoption of developed methodologies by members of our scientific community (plant geneticists and molecular biologists). The evaluation plan for the action outcomes will be the actual use of our germplasm in oat breeding programs, and number of reads/downloads and citations of published papers. The long term goal of this project is to increase the overall income of oat growers and boost the production of healthy oat with use of enhanced crown rust resistant varieties.
The learning outcomes from this project include: 1) development of new sources of multi-gene resistance for oat varietal improvement; and 2) information about these new resistance genes/quantitative trait loci (QTLs) and their inheritance pattern, all available to the scientific community for utilization and crop improvement. The target audience for this project is primarily the oat scientific community. This work aims to generate scientific results useful and valuable for the oat industry, particularly in the NCR. Findings from this project also can benefit production in other grains as adult plant resistance can be broad spectrum and the orthology among genes in cereals may allow crop translational applications.
The action outcomes include the use of germplasm generated from this project to breed new oat cultivars; adoption of methods and use of generated data to identify new sources of resistance and better understand the molecular genetic basis of adult plant resistance. Historically, oat cultivars only last a maximum of five years in the field before their resistance to crown rust is broken. The pathogen evolves rapidly and acquires new virulence traits over time. Therefore, there is a constant need to develop new varieties to avoid epidemics and severe economic losses. This project addresses the pre-breeding bottleneck, which is finding novel sources of resistance genes that are easy to cross with the existing cultivars. Ultimately, this project leads to more durable crown rust- resistant cultivars that growers can adopt, which would then help maintain the status of NCR as the top oat producer in the US.