International Symposium on Cereal Leaf Blights 2019 | University College Dublin, Ireland | 22-24 May 2019

Investigating the genetic diversity of the fungal wheat pathogens Zymoseptoria tritici and Fusarium graminearum from field site isolates 


Paola Pilo*
University College Dublin, School of Agriculture and Food Science, UCD Earth Institute

James I. Burke
University College Dublin, School of Agricultural and Food Science

Anna M. M. Tiley
University College Dublin, School of Agriculture and Food Science, UCD Earth Institute

Colleen Lawless
University College Dublin, School of Agriculture and Food Science, UCD Earth Institute

Angela Feechan
University College Dublin, School of Agriculture and Food Science, UCD Earth Institute


Poster Presentation
Pathogen Functional Genetics and Genomics

Atrium, UCD O'Brien centre for Science
Poster 26

View this abstract online by visting isclb2019.com/see/ABS67502

The global demand for wheat is expected to increase by 33% by 2050 (FAO, 2006). In Ireland, wheat is the second largest cereal produced and constitutes 30% of the 2.4 million tonnes of cereal produced (CSO, 2017). Two major pathogens which threaten wheat production are the fungi Zymoseptoria tritici, causal agent of Septoria Tritici Blotch (STB) and Fusarium graminearum2 causal agent of Fusarium Head Blight (FHB).

This project aims to use data collected from Z. tritici and F. graminearum field populations to investigate genetic diversity and identify effector gene candidates which may be required for disease. Fungal spore traps have been installed at four sites across the UK (Angus, Yorkshire, Wiltshire and Kent) and samples have been collected bi-weekly from May-August in 2018 and this will continue until 2022. The spore trap samples from 2018 are currently being microscopically examined for the presence of Z. tritici, F. graminearum, and other disease-causing fungi. There are more than 13 fungal species on the 2018 samples. Among the most abundant fungal spore types identified include: Alternaria spp., Cladosporium spp., Fusarium spp., Didymella spp., Puccinia spp. and Z. tritici. Between the sites there is a difference in the abundance of these fungal species. DNA has been extracted from the samples and sent for sequencing to assess Z. tritici and F. graminearum strain diversity.

The data collected from this project will be used alongside fungal field isolate studies in order to identify key virulence genes in Z. tritici and F. graminearum required for disease.  The results from this research will be used to inform future control strategies against these major pathogens of wheat.