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Reduced Fusarium Ear Blight and Mycotoxins in UK Wheat through Improved Resistance (REFAM)


Fusarium ear blight (FEB) disease poses a potentially serious, although sporadic, threat to the UK cereal crop. The disease is of particular concern because the Fusarium species involved produce toxins within the grain that are harmful to human and animal consumers. EU legislation setting limits on Fusarium mycotoxin content is imminent. All grain will have to comply with agreed limits for mycotoxins. It is widely recognised that resistant varieties offer the best option to control FEB and reduce the threat of mycotoxin contamination (altered agronomic practices or use of fungicides are, at best, only partially effective). Unfortunately most current UK and European wheat varieties are either moderately or highly susceptible to the disease. There is no comparable information for barley varieties. <P>
It is the aim of this proposal to evaluate the genetic basis of resistance in UK and other wheat varieties to identify the best materials. Genetic mapping will be used to develop markers that will enable plant breeders to produce wheat for the UK with high levels of FEB resistance and reduce the risk of toxin accumulation in grain. It is also proposed to make an initial assessment of the FEB resistance and mycotoxin risk of UK barley varieties.

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