David’s research aims to use the genetic diversity present within the Watkins collection in order to identify and characterise new sources of wheat yellow (stripe) rust resistance.
Yellow rust (Puccinia striiformis f. sp. Tritici (Pst)) is considered one of the most economically damaging wheat diseases, with global yield losses worth nearly $1billion annually and an estimated 88% of the world’s wheat production susceptible.
Current disease management strategies are based upon genetically resistant cultivars and the application of fungicides. However, fungicide usage represents a costly and environmentally unsustainable method of treatment, whilst resistance gene deployment has historically resulted in short-lived protection before pathogen adaptation.
Finding new sources of yellow rust resistance is therefore a research priority in order to ensure agricultural sustainability and provide durable disease resistance through the combination of multiple resistance genes.
David’s work uses association genetics to identify novel sources of yellow rust resistance within the Watkins collection that can be used to help build durable disease resistance to the Pst pathogen.