"Full nonhost resistance can be defined as immunity displayed by an entire plant species against all genotypes of a plant pathogen. The genetic basis of (non)host-status of plants is hard to study, since identification of the responsible genes would require interspecific crosses that suffer from sterility and abnormal segregation. There are some plant/potential pathogen combinations where only 10% or less of the accessions are at most moderately susceptible. These may be regarded as marginal host or near-nonhost, and can provide insights into the genes that determine if a plant species is a host or a nonhost to a would-be pathogen, and to investigate the genetics of the host-status to specialized pathogens.
Barley (Hordeum vulgare) is an example of a near-nonhost to several rusts (Puccinia) and powdery mildews (Blumeria graminis) of cereals and grasses. The research group of Dr. RE Niks has accumulated susceptibility to different heterologous rusts and powdery mildews in several lines. These lines and fully resistant accessions have been used to develop mapping populations which are the starting point material of the present study. In particular, the project aims to enhance the knowledge on the genetic basis of the resistance at the species level (nonhost resistance) to rusts and powdery mildews in barley. These systems are being used as models to gain more insight in the nonhost resistance phenomenon to understand its genetic basis. This research is unique in its approach and will add new scientific insights, complementary to the nonhost research elsewhere. These scientific advances are of great interest because they allow understanding which genes are involved in natural variation between plant species in (non) host status to specialized biotroph pathogens. This knowledge will help to address one of the phenomena that are still poorly understood in Plant Biology and may lead to improved strategies to apply durable forms of disease resistance in breeding programs"
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