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Identifying sources of disease resistance in lettuce against Botrytis cinerea and Sclerotinia sclerotiorum


This project aims to identify sources of disease resistance in lettuce against Botrytis cinerea and Sclerotinia sclerotiorum, two economically important fungal pathogens


This research project is part of the work of the Fresh Produce Research Centre at Harper Adams University.

The project aims to identify novel alleles for increasing the resistance of lettuce to B. cinerea and S. sclerotiorum to facilitate downstream breeding approaches.

B. cinerea and S. sclerotiorum cause substantial losses on field-grown and protected lettuce crops, an industry worth almost £200M/yr in the UK. B. cinerea is a particular problem post-harvest, whereas S. sclerotiorum can result in up to 50% crop loss pre-harvest. Chemical control is problematic with restrictions on spraying and fungicides being medium-high risk for development of resistance. Development of host resistance is a more sustainable solution, but has been an intransigent problem for breeders. This project demonstrates a novel approach to breeding for quantitative disease resistance against these pathogens using systems biology. The development of resistant lettuce varieties will have considerable economic benefits. Reduced crop losses and more efficient resource use would also be of environmental benefit.

This project brings together a strong consortium with expertise in plant pathology and systems biology (Warwick), lettuce genetics (Harper Adams), and metabolite measurements (Reading), with the lettuce breeding (A.L. Tozer), commercial lettuce-growing (HDC) and salad products industries (Freshtime).

Funding Body

Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council Horticulture and Potato Initiative (BBSRC HAPI)

Lead Organisation

Harper Adams University and University of Warwick Crop Centre


University of Warwick Crop Centre, University of Reading, A.L.Tozer, Freshtime

Project staff

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