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Effect of a biostimulant on Resistance Gene Expression in Wheat

Anthony Twamley: School of Agriculture and Food Science, University College Dublin

<div>High wheat yield losses are recorded globally each year due to fungal pathogens. Since many fungal pathogens build up resistance to fungicides, novel and alternative methods of pathogen control need to be developed. An innovative approach to improving productivity in crops challenged by biotic stress, is to stimulate the plant’s own defence mechanisms. In a primed state, plants may better respond to biotic and abiotic stresses. The aim of the present project was to determine if a fermentation-based biostimulant can prime plant defences by inducing the expression of endogenous defence-related genes. Two-week-old wheat seedlings were spray treated with the biostimulant and then inoculated with spores of powdery mildew. Disease assays show a significantly reduced number of pustules/area following treatment with the biostimulant. Tissue samples were also taken at time points pertaining to different developmental stages of the disease. Significantly higher expression of genes associated with the salicylic acid dependent signalling pathway were observed in treated plants compared to untreated plants (p≤0.05). These genes are often associated with the elicitation of plant defence responses to specific biotrophic pathogens, such as powdery mildew. Future work will seek to better elucidate the genes and pathways that are induced by the biostimulant in wheat.</div>