High throughput plant pathogen interaction assays

Due to global warming Finnish agriculture is facing a threat of exponential increase of fungal pathogens. Warmer autumns and increased air moisture provide an optimal environment for fungal growth. To face this, it is crucial to unravel genes responsible for pathogen susceptibility and use them to breed disease resistant crops. However, disease analysis is cumbersome and labor intensive. Utilizing the National Plant Phenotyping Infrastructure (NaPPI), we have developed an automated high-throughput method for plant disease scoring, allowing simultaneous screening hundreds of plants. In this study we will focus on the role of ubiquitin E3 ligase gene family of Arabidopsis in fungal susceptibility using Botrytis cinerea as model pathogen. Discovered genes will be available for applications to improve crop performance and will establish the foundation for the NaPPI in plant pathogen research, benefiting basic and applied plant research.