Project Number: 5010-42000-046-00
Start Date: Jan 19, 2011
End Date: Jan 18, 2016
Toxins produced by plant-pathogenic Fusarium pose a significant threat to food safety and place a major burden on the world’s agricultural economy. The primary objectives of the proposed research are to: 1) Characterize the genetic diversity and mycotoxin potential of Fusarium head blight (FHB) and other fusarial pathogens, develop novel pathogen detection technologies, and expand web-accessible informational databases to facilitate the rapid and accurate identification of toxigenic fusaria via the Internet, 2) Determine the global population structure of F. graminearum and identify genetic variation associated with population-level differences in growth, reproduction, and toxin accumulation phenotypes as a means to improve pathogen modeling and surveillance, and 3) Characterize the mechanisms that drive the diversification and adaptive evolution of virulence genes in Fusarium genomes as well as host defense genes involved in immunogenicity and disease response. These complementary objectives are directed at developing robust pathogen control strategies through elucidating the evolution, population structure, phenotypic diversity, host range, geographic distribution and adaptive potential of toxigenic fusaria. In addition, the planned research will produce enhanced methods for identification and characterization (e.g. toxin type, toxin accumulation potential, and host preference) of Fusarium responsible for mycotoxin contamination of cereals and other food. The information and molecular tools developed as a result of this project will address the needs of small grain cereal producers, food and feed processors, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS), the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).