The research team, led by Dr David Simpson, will use a genetic approach to study resistance to strawberry wilt disease, a serious disease, caused by a fungal pathogen, that is widespread in the UK. The timing of the award is crucial, following last years withdrawal of methyl bromide for soil sterilisation to control the pathogen.
This new project will use the native British wild strawberry as a model to study the genetics of resistance to wilt. Work on the model species will lead to the identification of genes that are responsible for resistance in the cultivated strawberry.
A genetic tool kit will be developed that can be used by strawberry breeders to produce new varieties that have an effective and stable resistance to wilt.
The strawberry breeding programme at EMR has already produced cultivars with partial resistance to wilt, including Florence and Flamenco, but screening has been based on the development of symptoms in the field and the inheritance of resistance is not understood at the genetic level.
David Simpson says “New varieties with strong resistance to wilt will be a boon to strawberry growers and greatly assist the long term sustainability of strawberry production in the UK. Consumers will benefit from improved availability of fresh, locally produced strawberries.”
Ursula Twomey | alfa
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