Nur Shuhadah Mohd Saad
Thesis: Identifying and characterising Resistance to Leptospaheria maculans (Rlm) candidate genes in Brassica species
My research aim is to identify genes within the Brassica genome that help canola plants (B. napus, B. juncea) express resistance against blackleg fungus. This response is highly specific. Compatible genes in both system must be present for complete resistance response to manifest. Bioinformatics analysis allows the identification of genes predicted to code for resistance (R genes) across the whole genome, based on prior knowledge from other closely related species. Additionally, using genotyping techniques, regions of the genome associated with resistance traits can be mined, refined and selected. In order to validate these candidate genes, molecular technique are employed to isolate and sequence gene regions across different canola cultivars. I also hope to compare and characterise the R genes present in different Brassica species, and their respective expression upon infection by blackleg fungus.
Why my research is important
Blackleg disease affects the canola industry with millions of dollars’ worth of losses annually. Conventional techniques are readily available to help overcome this problem. But blackleg fungus is quick to overcome the resistance response in canola. While a number of genes present in blackleg have been isolated and characterised, only two of the sixteen genes in canola have been successfully studied. Thus, in order to help ensure a more sustainable resistance response, the interaction between genes in the fungus and canola must be equally examined and understood.