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Rye, Rust and Powdery Mildew – Opportunities of new resistant hybrid rye cultivars for a sustainable future

During his PhD studies, Nikolaj Meisner Vendelbo investigated the rye breeding material at Nordic Seed A/S in the pursuit to identify new leaf rust and powdery mildew resistance genes.

Photo: Nikolaj Meisner Vendelbo

The incidence of leaf rust in rye is expected to increase as a result of climate changes concurrent with likely further restrictions on the use of pesticides. Despite disease resistance in rye constitute a necessary and sustainable alternative to the application of pesticides, majority of hybrid rye cultivars on the market are susceptible to leaf rust. To identify new resistance genes in the breeding material Nikolaj Meisner Vendelbo made use of state-of-the-art genomic techniques and in a collaboration with an English research team sequenced rye’s repertoire of resistance genes. In these studies, one powdery mildew resistance gene and five brown rust resistance genes were identified. The new research findings underline the high potential for especially leaf rust resistance in the breeding material and results can be directly implemented in the development of new resistant hybrid rye cultivars.

The PhD study was completed at Institute of Agroecology, Faculty of Technical Sciences, Aarhus University.

This summary was prepared by the PhD student.

Time: Monday, 6 December 2021 at 10.00 AM.
Place: Nordic Seed A/S, Grindsnabevej 25, 8300 Odder, Denmark.
Title of PhD thesis: Selection of rye (Secale cereale L.) for powdery mildew and leaf rust resistance through phenotyping, target sequencing, and association genetics.

Contact information: Nikolaj Meisner Vendelbo, e-mail: VendelboNM@gmail.com, tlf.: +4526486644. 

Members of the assessment committee:

Professor Hermann Bürstmayr, Head, Department of Plant breeding, Head, Institute of Biotechnology in Plant Production, Vienna University of Natural Resources and life Sciences, Austria.

Professor Niels Stein, Center of Integrated Breeding Research, Georg-August-University Göttingen, Germany.

Professor Per Landkjær Gregersen (chairman), Department of Agroecology, Aarhus University, Denmark.

Main supervisor:

Professor Ahmed Jahoor, Head of Breeding and Research, Nordic Seed A/S, Denmark.

Professor Mogens Støvring Hovmøller, Department of Agroecology, Aarhus University, Denmark.


Senior researcher Jihad Orabi, Head of Molecular Breeding, Nordic Seed A/S, Denmark.

Senior researcher Annemarie Fejer Justesen, Department of Agroecology, Aarhus University, Denmark.

Researcher Khalid Mahmood, Researcher and Bioinformatician in Genome Analysis, Nordic Seed A/S, Denmark.

Language: The PhD dissertation will be defended in English

The defense is public.
The PhD thesis is available for reading at the Graduate School of Technical Sciences/GSTS,

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