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Individual Highlight

Identification of Fusiform Rust Resistance Genes in loblolly Pine

Photo of Sporulating fusiform rust gall on pine. USDA Forest Service - Bugwood.orgSporulating fusiform rust gall on pine. USDA Forest Service - Bugwood.orgSnapshot : Knowledge of rust resistance genes provides tree breeders and forest managers with efficient tools for minimizing losses to fusiform rust, a fungal disease that causes millions of dollars of damage to southern pine plantations each year. Forest Service researchers are identifying protective genes and developing tests that could eventually allow managers to select resistant planting stock.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Nelson, C. Dana 
Research Location : Saucier, MS, Raleigh, NC, Athens, GA, Asheville, NC
Research Station : Southern Research Station (SRS)
Year : 2015
Highlight ID : 907


Each year, fusiform rust causes $28 million of damage in loblolly and slash pine plantations in the southeastern U.S. Fusiform rust resistance (Fr) genes can be used to manage fusiform rust disease in pine plantations. Forest Service scientists have located nine of loblolly pine’s resistance genes, paving the way for DNA-based marker tests that can determine which resistance genes an individual tree has. When trees with specific resistance genes are grown near fungus that carries corresponding avirulence genes, the incidence of fusiform rust disease is lowered. Knowing which tree resistance and pathogen avirulence genes are in planting stock and fungus at the planting site is key to success, and both can be determined using inoculation tests that are efficiently employed at the Resistance Screening Center at the Bent Creek Experimental Forest, Asheville, NC. Research into rust fungus avirulence genes is ongoing, but Forest Service scientists have mapped one gene and provided a draft genome sequence for the fungus. Developing and operationally implementing a DNA marker-based screening system for resistance and avirulence genes in the fusiform rust pathosystem continues to be a major goal for this research program.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Sunny Lucus, Josh Bronson, and Carol Young (retired), State & Private Forestry, Resistance Screening Center, Asheville, NC
  • North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC

Program Areas