25 March 2013

Understanding what affects the resistance genes in rapeseed crops is the focus of a new Marie Curie Fellowship research project being led by Dr Henrik Stotz at the University of Hertfordshire.

Threat to global food security

Rapeseed crop failure is not only an economic problem; it is a major concern for food security as well as for biofuel production. Climate change and increasing populations threaten our global food security, driving an urgent need to develop crops that suffer fewer losses from diseases yet still produce good sustainable harvests.

Rapeseed resistance genes

Dr Henrik Stotz, Marie Curie Fellow at the University of Hertfordshire’s School of Life and Medical Sciences, said: “Certain types of rapeseed have developed resistance genes to prevent infection from the fungus that causes phoma stem canker – the major cause of rapeseed failure.
Stotz continued: “Plant breeders are therefore introducing plants with these resistance genes. But, we have found that the gene can be quite easily rendered ineffective by changes in the genes of the fungus. We need to better understand how this happens and develop strategies for deploying crop resistance for rapeseed which can then be applied to a wide range of crop systems.”

Marie Curie Fellowship

The project “DURABLE RESISTANCE - Understanding factors affecting durability of crop resistance genes"" is funded from the European Union Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement n° 302202.
This two-year Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship is worth over €278K. The University of Hertfordshire has already benefitted from many Marie Curie Fellowships throughout FP7, but this is the first to be awarded to the School of Life and Medical Sciences. It is hosted by Professor Bruce Fitt, from the University‘s Crop and Environmental Protection Research Group, and Dr Andreas Kukol, from the University’s Biochemistry and Bioinformatics Research Group."