Rowland Biffen's Legacy is Spreading, with Insights from Rust in Mustards
Conference Recording Jan 24, 2014
About the SpeakerProfessor Holub is an expert in applied, molecular and ecological genetics of innate defence in plants. He trained in legume pathology and breeding in the US, completing research that catalysed a public-commercial partnership with all regional seed companies for release of multiple disease resistance in alfalfa forage varieties. His genetics career began in the UK as an AFRC funded postdoc with Professor Ian Crute at East Malling Research Station, where they established experimental models in Arabidopsis thaliana for molecular investigation of resistance to two highly specialised pathogens (Hyaloperonospora arabidopsidis and Albugo laibachii).
AbstractBiffen’s 1910 release of a yellow rust resistant wheat launched genetics as an applied discipline, for harnessing inheritance of natural variation to breed new animals and crops for human benefit. His legacy still informs modern translational research of disease resistance, including the use of Arabidopsis for investigating how a plant restricts the host range of biotrophic fungi and oomycetes that cause rust and mildew diseases. For example, white blister rust caused by Albugo candida is useful for identifying genes that protect against crop pathogens. White rust resistance is polygenic in A. thaliana Columbia including the TIR-NB-LRR gene WRR4, which provides rapid resistance against a broad-spectrum of Al. candida from brassica species and C. bursa-pastoris. This gene confers resistance in transgenic oilseed crops (B. napus and B. juncea). Two additional genes (WRR5 and WRR6) have been identified that confer resistance against blister formation but associated with visible chlorosis surrounding infections. Further WRR resistance in Columbia associated with pronounced wilting of infected tissue and partial blistering still needs to be characterized. The combined genetic evidence from host and pathogen will be useful for translational genetic development of crops for sustainable disease control.