It’s all in the genes - preventing rapeseed crop failure

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. 

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.

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.”

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.

ENDS

For more information, please contact Julie Cooper, University of Hertfordshire Press Office on 01707 284095, Email: j.cooper5@herts.ac.uk

Notes to Editor

About the University of Hertfordshire

The University is the UK’s leading business-facing university and an exemplar in the sector.  It is innovative and enterprising and challenges individuals and organisations to excel. 

The University of Hertfordshire is one of the region’s largest employers with over 2,650 staff and a turnover of almost £233 million.

With a student community of over 27,200 including more than 2,800 students from eighty-five different countries, the University has a global network of over 175,000 alumni. 

It is also one of the top 100 universities in the world under 50 years old, according to the new Times Higher Education 100 under 50 rankings 2012.

For more information, please visit www.herts.ac.uk

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• The University of Hertfordshire is the UK’s leading business-facing University and an exemplar in the sector. It is innovative and enterprising and challenges individuals and organisations to excel. • The University of Hertfordshire is one of the region’s largest employers with over 2,425 staff and a turnover of more than £234 million. With a student community of over 25,100 including more than 2,900 international students from over 120 different countries, the University has a global network of over 175,000 alumni. For more information, please visit www.herts.ac.uk • The University of Hertfordshire was awarded the Times Higher Education ‘Entrepreneurial University of the Year 2010’.

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The project “DURABLE RESISTANCE - Understanding factors affecting durability of crop resistance genes
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We need to ...develop strategies for deploying crop resistance for rapeseed which can then be applied to a wide range of crop systems.
Dr Henrik Stotz, Marie Curie Fellow at the University of Hertfordshire’s School of Life and Medical Sciences