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Genetics of resistance

Comparative genetic analyses of host and nonhost resistance in wheat and barley

Contact: Dr Lesley Boyd

Dr Lesley Boyd has led a programme investigating “nonhost” resistance since 1996 [1,2,3]. Projects have included studies involving stripe rust, leaf rust, powdery mildew and Magnaporthe, the causal agent of blast in wheat, barley and rice.

In collaboration with Patrick Schweizer, IPK-Gatersleben, Ulrich Schaffrath, RWTH, AAchen, Germany, and Rients Niks at Wageningen University, The Netherlands we explored the genetic framework of nonhost resistance in wheat and barley to three pathogens of economic and ecological impact causing rust (Puccinia spp.), powdery mildew (Blumeria spp.) and blast (Magnaporthe spp.) disease in cereals: “TritNONHOST: Integrative genomic and genetic analysis of nonhost resistance across Triticeae species”.

Magnaporthe development

Magnaporthe development on wheat leaves:
a) spore having formed an appressorium (App); b) Appressorium having triggered a plant response seen
as a halo of fluorescence beneath the appressorium;
c) infection hypha (IH) growing within an epidermal
cell; and d) extensive hyphal growth associated with
plant cell death seen as autofluorescent cells

Parallel profiling of gene expression was undertaken in all host/nonhost combinations using wheat and barley Agilent gene arrays. Overlapping core sets of differentially regulated genes in host versus nonhost interactions have been identified. 

A follow on ERA-CAP award “DURESTrit: Functional characterisation and validation of nonhost components in Triticeae species for durable resistance against fungal diseases” expands the partnership, and examines host gene-powdery mildew effector interactions.


[1] P Rodrigues, JM Garrood, Q-H Shen, PH Smith and LA Boyd (2004) The genetics of non-host disease resistance in wheat to barley yellow rust. Theoretical and Applied Genetics 109: 425-432.

[2] HA Tufan, G McGrann, A Magusin, J-B Morel, L. Miché, LA Boyd (2009) Wheat blast: histopathology and transcriptome reprogramming in response to adapted and non-adapted Magnaporthe isolates. The New Phytologist 184: 473-484.

[3] HA Tufan, GRD McGrann, R MacCormack, LA Boyd (2012). TaWIR1 contributes to post-penetration resistance to Magnaporthe oryzae, butnot Blumeria graminis f. sp. tritici in wheat. Molecular Plant Pathology 13: 653-665.