Improving Disease Resistance and Nutritional Quality of Cereal Crops
Wheat and oats are important cereal crops for human subsistence. However, both species are hosts to a range of damaging diseases, and this impacts both yield and quality of the harvested grain. One pathogen that is of particular concern is Puccinia graminis, which causes stem rust. P. graminis is highly variable genetically and new genotypes tend to emerge that overcome available resistnace genes. One promising avenue for developing stable resistance to P. graminis is to employ nonhost resistance, which involves genes in nonhosts of P. graminis. These researchers are using next-generation sequencing to map genes for nonhost resistance in the model grass Brachypodium distachyon. This research uses MSI resources.
Oats are not as important to human subsistence as wheat, but they are considered to be the most nutritious cereal grain that is grown. Oat grain contains a range of nutritionally beneficial compounds including beta-glucan and tocopherols and tocotrienols (vitamin E). It would be desirable to understand more about the mechanisms that regulate the accumulation of these compounds, so that their levels can be increased. The groups is using MSI resources to analyze the gene expression of a suite of genes that comprise the vitamin E biosynthetic pathway. Since oat is a polyploid, the researchers are seeking to discriminate the coding sequences of homoeoalleles of genes that code for the same enzyme, so that they can explore how these homoeoalleles contribute to vitamin E biosynthesis, and to identify key steps in the pathway that are associated with the accumulation of vitamin E during seed development.
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