Guest Author: Eduard Akhunov, investigating genomics of stem rust wheat interaction

John Bakum
Tuesday, May 8, 2012

USDA AFRI (USA), in close collaboration with the international BGRI team, funded a project on functional genomics of stem rust ­ wheat interaction. In this project lead by Kansas State University (E.Akhunov) in collaboration with UC Davis (J. Dubcovsky) researchers are investigating molecular interactions among the cloned Ug99 resistance gene (Sr35), pathogen effectors, and their wheat targets.

Next-generation sequencing technologies have been used for sequencing stem rust races virulent and avirulent to Sr35, and will be complemented with a detailed transcriptional profiling of stem rust-wheat pathosystem. This information is being used to identify stem rust effectors recognized by Sr35 resistance gene and to understand the transcriptional control of host-pathogen interaction at a system level.The cloned Sr35 gene is being used as an entry point to unravel molecular interactions between stem rust and wheat using in vitro and vivo assays and TILLING mutants. The long-term objectives of this project is to elucidate molecular processes defining the outcome of rust-wheat interaction and create genetic and genomic tools to develop better strategies to control this disease.

We combined genetic and genomic resources and expertise of both laboratories for detailed functional analysis of Sr35 gene and stem rust-wheat pathosystem. The project brings together a unique combination of expertise of both laboratories in the analysis of next-generation sequence data, functional analysis of genes using in vitro/in vivo assays and reverse genetics approaches. This collaborative approach allowed researchers to quickly clone and validate the first Ug99 resistance gene making now possible to investigate the molecular mechanisms of pathogen recognition.