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Integrated strategy to prevent mycotoxin risks (Inspyr) - LK09119

Fusarium head blight (FHB) disease poses an increasing threat to UK cereal crops, particularly because most current UK wheat varieties are highly susceptible to FHB. New species have appeared and spread in the UK for which climate change may, in part, be responsible. Future predicted climate changes are likely to exacerbate risks of epidemics in the UK. FHB of cereals is of particular concern because the Fusarium species produce trichothecene mycotoxins (e.g. DON and T2/HT-2), within grain that are harmful to human and animal consumers. It is vital that the UK is positioned to be able to comply with EU legislation on permissible levels of these mycotoxins in grain.

Resistant varieties offer the best option to control FHB but this is a difficult target for resistance breeding. Incorporation of high levels of resistance to FHB into wheat and barley will be critical to prevent mycotoxin contamination of grain from becoming a major problem for all elements of the UK food and feed chains.

This project will focus on the identification of Type 1 resistance (resistance to initial infection) in both wheat and barley. Such resistance should function equally against Fusarium species that produce DON mycotoxin and those that produce the more toxic T2 and HT-2 toxins as well as against non toxin-producing FHB pathogens such as Microdochium species. This will be achieved using our newly developed tools to characterise Type 1 resistance.
The project has a number of interconnected components. Genetic analyses will identify, characterise and localise the FHB resistance genes in novel germplasm and provide valuable resources for future breeding and research. Such resistance would also be ideal for incorporation into varieties for use in organic cereal production. Much of the FHB susceptibility of current UK wheat varieties is due to linkage between the Rht2 semi-dwarfing gene, present in almost all UK varieties, with a gene conferring increased susceptibility to FHB. This project aims to break this association and enable breeders to produce FHB resistant varieties with good agronomic characters.

This project will determine how fungicide application influences disease and toxin accumulation in varieties with different levels of FHB resistance. This will reveal the type and level of host resistance required to restrict toxin contamination under UK conditions. This project will enable the development an integrated and sustainable approach to FHB control through the use of resistant varieties combined with appropriate fungicide application and agronomic practices.

This project will benefit both the environment and industry through increased production efficiency and reduced carbon foot-print. It will benefit growers by identifying and developing varieties that have an inherently low risk of mycotoxin contamination, thereby increasing yield and reducing the likelihood of grain being rejected for processing or animal feed. It will ensure compliance within the industry with imminent EU legislation for T2 and HT2 toxins in cereals. It will benefit both producers and processors by reducing the need for mycotoxin testing. This project also has obvious benefits for ensuring food/feed safety.
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2010

To: 2014

Cost: £508,968
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Sejet Planteforaedling I/S, Svalof Weibull AB, KWS UK Ltd, Maltsters Association of Great Britain, BASF plc, SECOB, nabim, John Innes Centre (BBSRC), Premier Foods Ltd, Home Grown Cereals Association, Scottish Crop Research Institute, National Institute of Agricultural Botany, RAGT Seeds Ltd, Syngenta Seeds UK, Central Science Laboratory