NEW THREAT TO OILSEED RAPE EMERGES IN UK
Variant of Phoma-causing fungus found in Europe for first time
A variety of the fungus that causes the disease Phoma on oilseed rape and other brassicas has been discovered in Europe for the first time, at sites in Southern England and Northern Ireland.
The Plenodomus biglobosus ‘canadensis’ variant was discovered last spring on wasabi plants, marking the first time the disease has been found on the vegetable.
Another variant of the fungus, P. biglobosus ‘brassicae’ was also discovered infecting wasabi at a third site in the West Midlands.
DNA analysis of cultures taken from the infected plants confirmed the identification, said Rothamsted plant pathologist, Dr Kevin King.
“Greenhouse testing then showed that both variants could cause disease not just on wasabi, but also oilseed rape, cabbage and pak choi.
“To date, ‘canadensis’ has been reported from brassica species in Australia, Canada, China, Mexico and the USA. However, the present study extends the known geographic range of it, which now includes Europe, having been found in the UK at two geographically distinct sites.
“Moreover, this study also represents, new discoveries for both ‘brassicae’ and ‘canadensis’ as causal agents of Phoma disease on wasabi plants, which previously was thought to be infected only by other variants in Canada, New Zealand and Taiwan.”
In recent years, there is evidence that P. biglobosus has become an increasingly problematic pathogen of UK oilseed rape crops.
Previously, only ‘brassicae’ has been reported on European OSR, and Dr King believes further work is needed to check whether this increase is as a result of the new ‘canadensis’ variant or down to recent varieties being more susceptible generally.
“Additional monitoring surveys are now required to understand the geographic distribution of the P. biglobosus variants present in current pathogen populations, both on wild and cultivated brassicas from throughout the British Isles and continental Europe.”
About Rothamsted Research
Rothamsted Research is the longest-running agricultural research institute in the world. We work from gene to field with a proud history of ground-breaking discoveries, from crop treatment to crop protection, from statistical interpretation to soils management. Our founders, in 1843, were the pioneers of modern agriculture, and we are known for our imaginative science and our collaborative influence on fresh thinking and farming practices.
Through independent science and innovation, we make significant contributions to improving agri-food systems in the UK and internationally. In terms of the institute’s economic contribution, the cumulative impact of our work in the UK was calculated to exceed £3000 million a year in 20151. Our strength lies in our systems approach, which combines science and strategic research, interdisciplinary teams and partnerships.
Rothamsted is also home to three unique resources. These National Capabilities are open to researchers from all over the world: The Long-Term Experiments, Rothamsted Insect Survey and the North Wyke Farm Platform.
We are strategically funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), with additional support from other national and international funding streams, and from industry. We are also supported by the Lawes Agricultural Trust (LAT).
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1Rothamsted Research and the Value of Excellence: A synthesis of the available evidence, by Séan Rickard (Oct 2015)
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The Lawes Agricultural Trust, established in 1889 by Sir John Bennet Lawes, supports Rothamsted Research’s national and international agricultural science through the provision of land, facilities and funding. LAT, a charitable trust, owns the estates at Harpenden and Broom's Barn, including many of the buildings used by Rothamsted Research. LAT provides an annual research grant to the Director, accommodation for nearly 200 people, and support for fellowships for young scientists from developing countries. LAT also makes capital grants to help modernise facilities at Rothamsted, or invests in new buildings.