Blight Resistant Tomatoes

Title of Experiment: Blight Resistant Tomatoes

Date planted: May 2011

Contact: Dr Katherine Steele, James Stroud

Funding sources: KESS/European Social Fund

Location: Henfaes Research Centre / Thoday Laboratories

Experimental Aims

  • Evaluate a wide range of existing tomato genotypes for resistance to late blight, caused by Phytophthora infestans.
  • Create an experimental mapping population of hybrid tomato plants that segregate for different blight resistance genes for understanding inheritance of resistance and selecting better varieties.
  • Establish whether the tomato based P. infestans population is different from the potato based P. infestans population and investigate which factors lead to host specialisation.

Brief description

Late-blight is a fungal disease that costs the potato and tomato industry tens of millions of pounds per year through the cost of fungicide application and crop losses. This project seeks to ascertain whether more resistant types could be developed. Tomato genotypes with potential for use in blight-resistance breeding programmes are being screened in field and greenhouse trials to assess their blight resistance. Further laboratory-based detached-leaf assays will be conducted to allow further comparisons of different host/pathogen genotype combinations.

 

A large population of tomato plants resulting from crosses made at Henfaes will be used to identify the sources of genetic resistance in tomato lines through Quantitative Trait Locus (QTL) mapping, and genotypes with potential for use in breeding programmes will be selected.

 

Preliminary studies have suggested that some strains of P. infestans tend to favour tomato as a host, whilst others tend to favour potato. Understanding which strains predominate on tomato may help plant breeders to develop tomato cultivars with better resistance to late-blight. A national survey of tomato and potato blight is being carried out, with the genetic fingerprints of samples being analysed in the Thoday Laboratories, and detached-leaf tests of the virulence of P. infestans strains collected against different tomato genotypes carried out using material grown at Henfaes.

Tomato genotypes with potential for use in blight-resistance breeding programmes are being screened in field and greenhouse trials to assess their blight resistance. Further laboratory-based  detached-leaf assays will be conducted to allow further comparisons of different host/pathogen genotype combinations.

 

Collaborators

The project is a KESS PhD project (www.higherskillswales.co.uk/kess) supported by the European Social Fund, and is a partnership between Bangor University, the Sárvári Research Trust, and Burpee Europe Ltd.
This project is being carried out by James Stroud (Bangor University PhD student) with supervision from Dr Katherine Steele and Dr Mike Hale (Bangor University) and Dr David Shaw (Sárvári Research Trust) and Simon Crawford (Burpee Europe). Numerous gardening organisations in Great Britain and Ireland have assisted in collecting P. infestans samples. We are open to collaboration on any aspect of the project.

Publications arising from this experiment

Stroud, J.; Burrows, J.; Crawford, S.; Hale, M.D.; Shaw, D.S.; Steele, K.A. (2013). Does Phytophthora infestans exhibit host specialisation on tomato in Great Britain? (Poster presented at Euroblight Workshop 2013.

J. Stroud, D. Shaw, M. Hale, S. Crawford & K. Steele (2013) Phytophthora infestans on Tomato: Knowing thine enemy (and how to beat it). Talk presented at BSPP Presidential Meeting 2013, 17th - 18th December 2013, Birmingham UK

Photograph of Outdoor tomato blight trials, 2013


Link to KESS case study:

http://www.higherskillswales.co.uk/kess/documents/James_casestudy.pdf

Link to press article:

http://www.dailypost.co.uk/news/local-news/tomato-catch-up-bangor-university-experts-5873374