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Crop Biotech Update

Pioneering Study Helps Fight Against Ash Dieback

January 20, 2016

Across Europe, the European ash (Fraxinus excelsior) is seriously affected by ash dieback, with only around two percent of trees surviving in areas where the disease is well established. In a pioneering study, University of York researchers identified genetic markers to predict whether specific trees in ash populations will succumb to ash dieback disease, or tolerate and survive the fungal pathogen.

The researchers sequenced the RNA of trees from a population with diverse susceptibility to identity genes whose sequence and expression levels correlate with disease symptoms. This allowed them to identify genetic markers that are correlated with low susceptibility to ash dieback disease. Using a second population of trees, they used these gene markers to successfully predict which of the trees were likely to have a low level of susceptibility to the fungal pathogen Hymenoscyphus fraxineus. The technology could help in pre-screening individual tree seedlings to identify non disease-susceptible individuals before they are planted out.

For more, read the news article from the University of York.