Research Project

Unraveling the genetic mechanisms underlying ergot resistance in durum wheat

Dr. Yuefeng Ruan. AAFC Swift Current

Start Date: April 1, 2021                 

End Date: January 15, 2024

AWC’s funding: $60,000  

Current commercial varieties of Durum wheat [Triticum turgidum L. subsp. durum (Desf.)] are susceptible to ergot, a disease that causes downgrading of grain of this major crop. Ergot infection alone does not usually cause significant yield loss, but highly toxic alkaloids contained in the ergot sclerotia leads to grain downgrading or in severe cases, rejection at the elevator causing financial loss to growers. In 1999, there was an outbreak of ergot in Saskatchewan where 4% of Canada Western Amber Durum (CWAD) wheat samples delivered to elevators were infested with ergot sclerotia. A similar outbreak occurred in Manitoba in 2005, followed by outbreaks in 2008 and 2011 in all three Prairie provinces with the most consistently high levels being seen in Alberta. In Saskatchewan in 2008, 14% of CWAD samples were infested with ergot and 14% in 2011.

The objectives include:

1.     Identification of genetic markers associated with ergot resistance factors in durum wheat.

2.     Introgression of ergot resistance genes into adapted durum germplasm

3.     To gain insight into the molecular basis of ergot resistance

4.     Canadian Light Source molecular determinants of ergot resistance.