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VariWhiM Report Summary

Project ID: 336808
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: France

Mid-Term Report Summary - VARIWHIM (Understanding White Mold disease quantitative resistance using natural variation)

Crop losses due to pathogen attacks are a major limitation to yield and a serious threat to food security worldwide. As opposed to host-specialists, generalist parasites have the ability to infect a wide range of plant species in nature. These parasites are among the most devastating plant pathogens and on the rise, yet our knowledge on the molecular bases of infection by generalists remains limited. The ERC project VariWhim aims at providing a global understanding of the complex interactions between plants and generalist fungal pathogens such as Sclerotinia sclerotiorum, through integrated approaches considering both the plant and fungal partners. At this stage, the project allowed to identify novel molecular mechanisms contributing to plant resistance to S. sclerotiorum in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. It also provided new insights into the strategy used by the fungus to colonize its hosts, and how evolution shaped the genome of this destructive pathogen. Future work will include the use of these findings in strategies to improve crop resistance.

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