Thesis: Molecular characterization of the blackleg (Leptosphaeria maculans) resistance gene in Brassica napus
Blackleg disease caused by the fungus Leptosphaeria maculans (L. maculans) is a major threat to the oilseed (Brassica napus) industry in Australia. My project aims to study the gene-for-gene interaction of L. maculans and B. napus, in particular to identify and characterize resistance gene in the plant. Blackleg infection will be carried out on a range of B. napus cultivars and lesion score will be recorded. This phenotype data will be further supported by genotype data using Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) method. A genome wide association study (GWAS) will be applied to find if there is any association between the phenotype variation and gene locus. The resistance gene candidate will be confirmed using cloning and sequencing method.
Why my research is important
Australian canola is one of the main contributors to the worldwide oilseed production. However, the canola crop is severely attacked by blackleg disease, which resulted in a yield loss of $5-10 million in 2003. By identifying and characterizing the blackleg resistance gene in B. napus, we are able to understand the interaction between host and pathogen and how it leads to resistance in the plant. This study adds to the limited findings about genetic control of blackleg in canola. The results will also lead to further insights towards gene-for-gene hypothesis in plant disease resistance and/or answer questions that do not follow this hypothesis. Not only is this knowledge useful for scientists but it also helps canola plant breeders to plan their crops according to the cultivar type as preventive measures against blackleg attack.