My PhD project is a collaboration between the Saunders group at the Earlham Institute, and BASF. The Saunders lab recently developed a novel pathogen surveillance technique known as “field pathogenomics” to characterise the global diversity of the wheat yellow rust pathogen, Puccinia striiformis f.sp. tritici. This method allows rapid detection of pathogen variants directly from infected wheat samples taken from the field.
My research will be focused on expanding this technique to the related pathogen, Puccinia triticana, which causes brown rust of wheat. This pathogen has the potential to cause losses of over £20 million in epidemic years. The aim of this project is to determine the migration routes of brown rust across Europe and clarify how the current rust population is related to the historical population.