Sarah is a first year CASE PhD student in Diane Saunders’ lab, with industrial partner Limagrain. Her focus is on cereal killers, more specifically, she is attempting to identify and explore genes that make wheat more susceptible to infection by cereal rust fungi – e.g. yellow rust (Puccinia striiformis f. sp. tritici) and stem rust, (P. graminis).
She aims to identify genes that, when more highly expressed, lead to greater susceptibility to rusts. She will assess the level of resistance to rust that may be conferred when these genes are mutated and their function lost.
To be of use in breeding resistant commercial bread wheat, any identified genes should not negatively impact the yield capability of wheat when they are mutated. Therefore, she will look at the development, growth and yield of wheat with susceptibility-gene mutations, to see which genes or gene combinations will be the best for conferring rust resistance whilst not damaging yield.