Why does Pyrenophora teres cause net blotch disease in some barley plants and not others?

Pyrenophora teres f. teres causes net form of net blotch disease in barley. The disease causes net-like necrotic lesions surrounded by chlorosis and can lead to losses in yield for barley growers.

Net blotch disease in barley

Net blotch disease in barley leaves.

Pyrenophora teres causes this damage by producing many different toxins. We have identified these toxins in many virulent isolates but have some questions:

  1. How do these toxins cause the symptoms they cause (i.e. what are they affecting in a susceptible plant)?
  2. Why are resistant plants not affected by the toxin (i.e. how do resistant plants differ or behave when treated with the toxins? What plant genes are responsible for disease resistance?)

Students wishing to further their knowledge of plant-pathogen interactions, plant physiology, and molecular biology would be ideally suited to this field of research. Multiple projects are available to answer these questions by:

  1. characterising the production of these toxins and the responsible genes in virulent Pyrenophora teres isolates
  2. characterising the expression of plant genes associated with resistance and/or toxin sensitivity during the plant-pathogen interaction
  3. identifying genes and Quantitative Trait Loci associated with resistance using Genome Wide Association Mapping. 

Dependent upon the project, techniques or skills learnt will include microscopy; aseptic and microbiological techniques; molecular biology (such as RNA, DNA and protein isolation, cloning, heterologous expression); genetics (QTL analysis); data analysis and interpretation.

The projects will be based in the Able Lab (@AbleLab_UA) but have the opportunity to work with collaborators with genetics expertise in the School as well as those at the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) in the field.


Professor Amanda Able, School of Agriculture, Food and Wine

Professor Amanda Able
Professor in Plant Science in the School of Agriculture Food and Wine. Her areas of expertise are broad ranging across plant physiology and plant pathology. They include epigenetics of plants faced with stress, understanding plant-pathogen interactions, stress priming and transgenerational inheritance, postharvest physiology and mycology.

Anh Pham

Dr Anh Pham
Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the School of Agriculture, Food and Wine. Her expertise lies in genetic diversity and breeding for yield improvement in a wide range of crops. She currently oversees the Soybean Breeding Program at the University of Adelaide. 

Tara Garrard

Dr Tara Garrard
Research Scientist, SARDI. Tara is a mycologist by training. She currently oversees the Cereal Pathology group at SARDI which is responsible for monitoring disease in South Australian cereal crops and screening for disease resistance for plant breeders.

Tagged in Honours projects - Agricultural science, Honours projects - Plant science, Honours projects - Amanda Able, Honours projects - Anh Pham