DOE awards IBBR $1.1 million grant to sort out rust in poplar

January 30, 2018 |

In Maryland, the Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology Research (IBBR) has been awarded a $1.1 million U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) grant to elucidate the mechanism of rust pathogenesis in poplar in an effort to engineer durable resistance for this important, second generation biofuel crop.

The aim of the three-year project is to investigate the molecular basis for the virulence of leaf rust and other diseases toward Populus species in order to address the challenge of engineering resistance against the pathogens.  Genome-wide, high-throughput screens will be used to (i) elucidate the mechanisms by which the rust pathogen, Melampsora larici-populina suppresses host immunity, (ii) identify the host factors that are prime targets, and (iii) pinpoint the nutrient pathways that are hijacked by the pathogen to spread disease.  This information will shed new light on rust-poplar interactions and enable development of transgenic poplars as a tool for the research community to accelerate the evaluation of disease models.

The research is supported by the DOE’s Office of Science, Office of Biological and Environmental Research (BER) Plant Feedstock Genomics for Bioenergy program. Initial seed funding was also provided by the University Maryland Strategic Partnership: MPowering the State.

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Category: Research

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