Engineering tolerance to Botrytis in soft fruit crops

october 2020 – september 2024

Finlay Bourquin

Botrytis cinerea is a fungal plant pathogen responsible for causing strawberry fruit rot both pre- and post-harvest. Strawberry is a high value crop, hence harvest losses at any stage of production have an economic impact and unfortunately resistance to fungicides is increasing. The aims of this project are to identify novel strawberry susceptibility factors to B. cinerea, and B. cinerea virulence factors.

To do this, pathogenicity assays are being developed to detect changes in strawberry susceptibility and B. cinerea virulence. These assays will be conducted on strawberry leaves, fruits and flowers, to capture B. cinerea’s ability to infect various plant organs and because fruits and flowers are economically important. To investigate strawberry susceptibility factors and B. cinerea virulence factors, Fragaria vesca plantsand B. cinerea spores will be mutated through ethyl methanesulfonate or UV mutagenesis treatments, respectively. The developed pathogenicity tests will be utilised to examine if the mutations introduced have impacted susceptibility or virulence. If so, the corresponding plants or spores will have their genomes sequenced to identify the genomic regions responsible for the change in phenotype. This will reveal factors essential for B. cinerea’s success as a strawberry pathogen and increase our understanding of this pathosystem.

Research progress

Finlay Bourquin AHDB Annual Report 2022