Parsnips are a speciality crop in the UK, covering an area of 3100ha with a value of £64M annually. The major constraint to production is crop losses associated with root canker diseases caused by fungal pathogens such as Itersonilia and Mycocentrospora spp. Itersonilia pastinacae is a seed borne pathogen that produces ballistospores and chlamydospores that result in both foliar and root symptoms on parsnip whereas Mycocentrospora acerina produces conidia and is though to be splash dispersed.
In a BBSRC CASE Phd project with Elsoms Seeds Ltd. Lauren Chappell characterised Itersonilia isolates from parsnip and determined conditions for sporulation. Whole genome sequencing of Itersonilia pastinacae was also carried out to facilitate analysis of different gene sequences to determine the diversity within a collection of isolates to compare with data being generated on their relative pathogenicity on parnsip leaves and roots. The project also developed screening methods and genetic tools to facilitate breeding for quantitative resistance to both Itersonilia and Mycocentrospora. Parsnip seedling and root tests identified a range of resistance responses to both pathogens in different genotyped breeding lines produced by Elsoms which are being exploited to produce new resistant varieties
Please contact john dot clarkson at warwick dot ac dot uk