A Novel Idea - PulseResearch
April 25, 2017
Identifying and understanding novel sources of resistance to major lentil diseases
As most lentil growers in Saskatchewan know, fungicides are a major portion of production costs. However, they are necessary, as lentil diseases threaten to severely reduce seed yield and quality. For example, yield losses from anthracnose, one of the major diseases in Canadian lentil crops, can cause financial losses and that does not include losses from poor seed quality.
According to Dr. Sabine Banniza, Plant Pathologist at the University of Saskatchewan’s Crop Development Centre (CDC), lentil breeders are constantly working on increasing disease resistance within new varieties, but it is a challenge given the rapid pace at which pathogens evolve.
“Disease resistance breeding is, in most cases, a never-ending story, because pathogen populations co-evolve with resistant host plants and, in most cases, eventually manage to increase their virulence, which results in what we refer to as resistance breakdown,” she says.
Because of this problem, Dr. Banniza is currently leading research, funded by Saskatchewan Pulse Growers (SPG), that aims to identify and understand novel sources of resistance to the major lentil diseases using an innovative new approach. This approach involves mapping the plant genes associated with resistance to anthracnose, ascochyta, and stemphylium blights in Lens ervoides, a wild relative of lentil chosen because of its resistance to several diseases. Researchers will then clone the genes, analyze them, and develop markers that will allow them to be tracked once they have been moved into cultivated lentil species. Finally, these markers would be applied for marker-assisted selection in hybrid populations.
“We will mine Lens ervoides for new resistance genes to anthracnose, ascochyta blight, and stemphylium blight and develop markers that we can then use in the interspecific hybrids to trace the genes through the generations of the breeding program,” Dr. Banniza says.
The outcome of this research, slated to be completed in February 2019, will create the foundation needed to develop elite lentil cultivars with superior resistance to fungal pathogens at a much faster pace than conventional breeding allows.
“We hope to eventually have better resistance for these diseases. With the markers and a few other bits and pieces of technology, like the fast generation protocol that has been developed here, that should be achievable much faster,” says Dr. Banniza.
SPG Investment: $297,820
Co-Funders: Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture - Agriculture Development Fund, Western Grains Research Foundation, and Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council - collectively $675,881
Project Lead: Dr. Sabine Banniza, Plant Pathologist at the University of Saskatchewan's Crop Development Centre