Program 1: Towards effective genetic and sustainable management of Ascochyta blight of chickpea - Ascochyta blight pathogen biology, population dynamics and epidemiology.
Ascochyta Blight (AB, Phoma rabiei) is a major fungal disease capable of causing significant loss and management costs to chickpea crops. Current disease management practices include a fungicide spray regime combined with growing resistant chickpea cultivars. However, since its introduction to Australia, the fungus has become increasingly more aggressive on recently deployed and widely adopted cultivars.
In response to this the current project will develop a deeper understanding of the evolutionary potential of the fungus to determine the extent to which specific farming practice and/or climatic factors in each growing region are contributing to adaptation. In addition, parts of the fungus genome that condition the ability to cause AB will be identified and specific differences in genome sequences between fungal isolates, that are able to cause different disease levels on different chickpea cultivars, will be characterised. These sequence differences will then be validated as novel molecular tools to determine the pathogen risk within regions/climates, on particular cultivars and/or within particular farming systems.
Once the farming systems and/or climate factors that are most influential in increasing the aggressiveness of the fungus are identified, they will be used together with the new molecular tools, to predict the occurrence of disease epidemics and guide revision of disease management practices at a regional scale.
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- Griffith University
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