Thompson Rivers University

Environmental Sciences Seminar Series: combating diseases to cereal crops

Dr. Guus Bakkeren presents Approaches to effectively use pathogenomics for wheat crop protection against rusts presents as part of the Environmental Sciences Seminar Series.

Bakkeren works for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s research and development centre in Summerland, BC.

❏ More lectures in the ESS series


Rust fungi cause devastating diseases on cereal crops. In collaboration with the USDA-Kansas and the Broad Institute in Cambridge, MA, USA, and the Genome Sciences Centre in Vancouver, we generated genomic resources for these pathogens.

Over 200 genomes from various isolates of the wheat leaf rust fungus, Puccinia triticina, were sequenced and transcriptomes for a subset generated. This allowed us to perform phylogenomic and other comparative studies to identify approximately 700 virulence effectors predicted to be secreted and expressed during wheat infection.

Effector variants among the isolates are being correlated with virulence phenotypes in a Genome-Wide Association Study to identify resistance-triggering effectors.

Gene expression correlation networks were established to find possible wheat host proteins the fungus is targeting for its infection. Functional assays may be able to assist breeding efforts by effector-based screens, and essential fungus pathogenicity genes have been used in a Host-Induced Gene Silencing approach with a demonstrated practical application. These approaches can drive research innovations for crop protection.