Crop Biotech Update

Scientists Identify Genes to Combat Canola Blackleg Disease

May 15, 2019

A team of scientists from the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries (DPI) in Australia took a closer look at the canola plant's genome and was able to detect multiple genes in eight regions of the genome that can be used to develop new canola varieties resistant to the blackleg disease.

After three years of studying the canola under field and greenhouse conditions, the scientists were finally able to identify the genes that can become a durable source with multigene resistance to the blackleg disease. Blackleg disease has been a problem in Australia since the 1970s. It is caused by a fungus whose pathogen is highly diverse. On a global scale, blackleg disease remains a threat as well.

According to lead research scientist Dr. Harsh Raman, it is important to continuously seek and discover new sources of major and quantitative resistance in canola to minimize yield loses. Major resistance genes are helpful, but do not offer long-term protection to canola plants because of the blackleg pathogen's ability to mutate and render the major genes ineffective over time. Quantitative resistance, on the other hand, is difficult to select and is complicated by environmental factors. Thus, molecular markers linked with resistant loci could be used to enhance blackleg resistance in canola germplasm.

These new findings can then become the basis for other scientists to produce elite varieties of canola with quantitative resistance, providing canola longer-lasting protection against the blackleg disease.

Read DPI's media release and the full paper to know more.