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Improving the resistance of legume crops to combined abiotic and biotic stress - IF0209

The Food and Environment Agency (FERA) have secured EC funding through the call FP7-KBBE-
2011-5. KBBE.2011.1.1-02: Integrated approach to studying effects of combined biotic and
abiotic stress in crop plants. Collaborative projects were requested (small or medium scale focussed
research project targeted to SME’s) to a total EC contribution of €3m.
Project activities are divided into RTD (Research), management and dissemination. FERA will
coordinate the project (Dr Charlton) and lead the dissemination workpackage. FERA RTD activities
are largely in the development of molecular phenotyping using our extensive expertise in
metabolomics technologies. Coordination and dissemination are funded at 100% FEC by the EC.
RTD activities are funded at 75% FEC. Top-up funding for FERA RTD activities of £17K pa
between 11/12 and 15/16 (anticipated start 01.01.12) are initially sought (£85K). Discussions with
Defra colleagues suggest that the Strategic Evidence and Partnership Fund (SEPF) may facilitate the
development of this opportunity to meet future evidence requirements and value for money.
The project has 4 principal outcomes:
1. The identification of genes from Medicago and pea with a proven ability to alter the interaction
between pea and Fusarium under drought conditions and thereby provide a major route to
understanding the tripartite interaction of host, pathogen and drought stress. Previous studies
using our methods indicate excellent prospects for success.
2. The provision of alleles that enhance the resistance of pea to Fusarium under drought conditions
without negative impact on performance. Molecular breeding approaches will shorten the time
required to generate genotypes for testing by our SME plant breeding partners (hence a 5 year
project to enable this position to be reached).
3. The focus of this project is the Fusarium – pea interaction under drought conditions, but this
pathogen and abiotic stress are highly relevant to several other European crop species. The
validity of this approach will be demonstrated in non-legume crop species.
4. The project will develop molecular phenotyping tools using the latest Omics technologies to
quantify gene expression (transcriptomics) and tolerance to combined stressors (metabolomics).
This will provide generic techniques to enable new varieties to be brought to market in a much
shorter time than is currently feasible.
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2012

To: 2017

Cost: £84,984
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Sustainable Farming and Food Science