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Taking on Take-all
On 26th March 2009 , we held a take-all workshop at Brooms Barn, bringing together researchers to discuss ways of tackling this important wheat disease. There were 46 delegates at the meeting, about half of them from the plant breeding and protection industry. The aim of the workshop was to discuss the latest take-all research and make plans for advancing the work. Importantly, the workshop was an opportunity to unite the community to make a concerted effort to improve take-all control.
Take-all is the most damaging root disease of wheat worldwide and is a major problem for wheat production in the UK and other cereal-growing areas of the world. It is caused by the soilborne fungus Gaeumannomyces graminis. Overall, losses are estimated to cost £40-60 million annually in the UK. There is no varietal resistance to take-all in cultivated wheat and current control methods rely on crop rotation, biological control and fungicides, which can be variable. There have been some recent developments that should enable a renewed effort to improve control of this challenging disease. We wanted to bring everyone up to date on what is going on in different take-all research labs.
We star ted by learning about resistance in wheat and its diploid relatives, oat and rye then moved on to take-all pathology, soil dynamics and pathogen polymorphism, epidemiology and prediction. We also learned about how measurement of root activity, association genetics and transposon mapping could help us in identifying resistance traits. The possibility of developing resistance by wheat transformation also now seems a real possibility. Speakers were Doug Bailey (INRA), Bill Clark (Brooms Barn), Richard Gutteridge (Rothamsted), Anne Osbourn (John Innes Centre), Kim Hammond-Kosack (Rothamsted), Bill Hollins (RAGT), Tim Langdon (IGER), Eric Ober (Brooms Barn), Neil Paveley (ADAS), Phil Poole (John Innes Centre), Chris Ridout (John Innes Centre), Alain Sarniguet (INRA) and Emma Wallington (NIAB) There was a buzz of excitement about the day, and a clear indication that the time is right for a big push to make progress in controlling the disease.
There was a strong message from the breeders that a search for new resistance from rye and diploid wheat relatives was the most urgent priority, and most likely to yield results. As we make progress on this, investigating pathogen epidemiology and soil dynamics will then help us to find out why the disease becomes a problem in the second wheat situation, and why certain soils are more conducive.
If you would like to know more about our plans, please get in touch with me. I would like to thank Bill Clark and the team at Brooms Barn for making us feel very welcome and for the smooth planning of the event. I would also like to thank Monsanto and BSPP respectively for their contribution towards the running costs and travel enabling Alan Sarniguet to present at the meeting. Thanks also to Sarah Maxwell (JIC) for helping me to plan the event.
Chris Ridout, John Innes Centre