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Dr James Cockram


Using UK elite wheat MAGIC and association mapping populations to dissect the genetics of septoria and tan spot resistance

Background: Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) is the UK’s most important crop. NIAB have developed Europe’s only publicly available wheat Multiparent Advanced Generation Inter-Cross (MAGIC) population, generated by systematically crossing multiple parental lines over many generations (BBSRC grant BB/E007260/1). The resulting population of 1,000 progeny represents a unique platform for the genetic dissection of agronomic traits (Mackay & Powell 2007; Cavanagh et al 2007). NIAB’s MAGIC population has recently been genotyped with the state-of-the-art 90,000 Illumina iSelect wheat SNP chip. In collaboration with R. Richards (CSIRO, Australia) we have initiated effector (proteins secreted by the pathogen that facilitate infection) screening in wheat. This approach will be utilised here.

Project aims: This project will deploy the MAGIC population, in conjunction with a wheat association mapping panel (500 lines, also genotyped with the 90k chip), to investigate the genetic basis of host (wheat) resistance to the nectrotrophic fungi, Stagonospora nodorum and tan spot. This will utilise various approaches, such as effector-based screening, field studies and fluorescent imaging of transformed pathogen strains during infection. The project will utilise emerging wheat molecular tools (the physical map, genome survey sequence, TILLING populations) and comparative genetics towards fine-mapping wheat QTL controlling disease resistance. Breeder friendly genetic markers will be developed, as well as near isogenic lines, providing the basis for map-based gene cloning of wheat QTL. effectors become available for other disease species, these may also be screened on the genetic platforms used here.


  1. Mackay & Powell  2007, Trend Plant Sci 12:57-63.
  2. Cavanagh et al 2007 Curr Opin Plant Biol 11:1-7.

Second supervisor:

Ian Mackay