Fight­ing fun­gus

Shepparton News - Country News - - COBRAM & DISTRICT PONY CLUB TRIALS -

Aus­tralian re­searchers have a new weapon in the fight against fungi­cide re­sis­tance in grain crops, with con­fir­ma­tion that a spe­cially adapted ap­proach to de­tec­tion, in­volv­ing can­cer tech­nol­ogy, is ef­fec­tive for this pur­pose.

Re­searchers at the Cen­tre for Crop and Dis­ease Man­age­ment, a na­tional re­search cen­tre co­sup­ported by Curtin Univer­sity and the Grains Re­search and De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion, have used dig­i­tal poly­merase chain re­ac­tion (dPCR) tech­nol­ogy, com­bined with bait­ing tri­als, to de­velop an ad­vanced early warn­ing sys­tem that can be used to bet­ter de­tect fungi­cide re­sis­tance.

Bait­ing tri­als are field tri­als that can op­ti­mise the cap­ture of fun­gal pathogens that show fungi­cide re­sis­tance.

The adapted and fine­tuned dPCR tech­nol­ogy will en­able ear­lier, more tar­geted, in­for­ma­tion to be de­liv­ered to grow­ers so they can move faster to coun­ter­act any po­ten­tial yield losses.

It has also ex­panded knowl­edge about the ex­tent of fungi­cide re­sis­tance in the dam­ag­ing dis­ease bar­ley pow­dery mildew, and shown that the dis­ease is more wide­spread than pre­vi­ously thought.

Ac­cord­ing to CCDM’s Fungi­cide Re­sis­tance Group leader Fran LopezRuiz, dPCR works by al­low­ing re­searchers to col­lect mul­ti­ple sam­ples from a crop, pool them and then an­a­lyse fun­gal DNA to look for re­sis­tance mu­ta­tions.

‘‘Early de­tec­tion is an es­sen­tial step in de­liv­er­ing bet­ter tools for the man­age­ment of fungi­cide re­sis­tance, and the use of this tech­nol­ogy, in con­junc­tion with bait­ing field tri­als, has al­lowed us to not only de­tect re­sis­tance quickly and more ef­fec­tively, but to quan­tify the level of re­sis­tance,’’ Dr Lopez-Ruiz said.

CCDM re­searcher Kather­ine Zu­lak said the re­search team was the first to use the high through­put dPCR tech­nol­ogy to look specif­i­cally for fungi­cide re­sis­tance in the field, and the ac­cu­racy and speed of the pro­cess had ex­ceeded their ex­pec­ta­tions.

‘‘We found the tech­nique to be very sen­si­tive and ac­cu­rate, iden­ti­fy­ing the pres­ence of a mu­ta­tion in the CYP51 gene down to 0.2 per cent of the fun­gal pop­u­la­tion,’’ she said. ■ A pa­per with the de­tails of the dPCR re­search has been pub­lished in the pres­ti­gious sci­ence jour­nal Fron­tiers in Mi­cro­bi­ol­ogy and can be found at: www.fron­ ar­ti­cles/10.3389/ fmicb.2018.00706/full

Re­sis­tance is fu­tile . . . Cen­tre for Crop and Dis­ease Man­age­ment’s Fran Lopez-Ruiz with col­leagues Kather­ine Zu­lak and Belinda Cox. Pic­ture: CCDM

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