Ali Navabi

University of Guelph
Project Title: High-throughput transcriptomic and eQTL analyses of silicon-induced resistance against Fusarium head blight on wheat
Industry Partner: Grain Farmers of Ontario
Platform: Cloud Analytics

Health Water

Wheat is an essential part of the agriculture and agri-food industry in Ontario with an average annual production of 2.5 million tons. High yield and quality of wheat is seriously threatened by biotic and abiotic factors, among which Fusarium head blight (FHB, caused by the fungus Fusarium graminearum) has historically been most damaging. The mycotoxin produced by this fungus is harmful for human health and livestock feed and productivity. Conventional chemical fungicides are commonly used as an important mean to control FHB; however, they also pose a serious risk to the health of humankind and the environment. One of the most promising non-hazardous, eco-friendly methods to control different plant pathogens is the use of silicon, which induces resistance. Backed by SOSCIP high-performance computing resources, and using novel bioinformatics approaches, this study aims at conducting high-throughput genome-wide transcriptomic analysis of silicon-induced resistance against FHB, and possibly other important diseases, in wheat. Such study will lead us to: 1) understanding the complex underlying induced defense mechanisms, 2) identifying gene modules and regulatory elements that control such mechanisms, and finally and more importantly, 3) providing valuable building blocks and framework for future breeding programs which will be focused on the development of novel disease-resistant wheat cultivars in Ontario.