Oak Park is home to the National Centre for Arable Crops Research. Situated on 225 hectare research farm, the main objective of the work programme at Oak Park is to support the arable crops sector of Irish agriculture. The task ahead is to adapt new challenges in developing sustainable and environmentally sensitive agricultural systems which will provide farmers with adequate incomes and consumers with quality food at reasonable prices.

Recent Submissions

  • A Pathogen-Responsive Leucine Rich Receptor Like Kinase Contributes to Fusarium Resistance in Cereals

    Thapa, Ganesh; Gunupuru, Lokanadha R.; Hehir, James G.; Kahla, Amal; Mullins, Ewen; Doohan, Fiona M.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; Science Foundation Ireland; 11/S/103; 10/IN.1/B3028; 14IA2508 (Frontiers, 2018-06-26)
    Receptor-like kinases form the largest family of receptors in plants and play an important role in recognizing pathogen-associated molecular patterns and modulating the plant immune responses to invasive fungi, including cereal defenses against fungal diseases. But hitherto, none have been shown to modulate the wheat response to the economically important Fusarium head blight (FHB) disease of small-grain cereals. Homologous genes were identified on barley chromosome 6H (HvLRRK-6H) and wheat chromosome 6DL (TaLRRK-6D), which encode the characteristic domains of surface-localized receptor like kinases. Gene expression studies validated that the wheat TaLRRK-6D is highly induced in heads as an early response to both the causal pathogen of FHB disease, Fusarium graminearum, and its’ mycotoxic virulence factor deoxynivalenol. The transcription of other wheat homeologs of this gene, located on chromosomes 6A and 6B, was also up-regulated in response to F. graminearum. Virus-induced gene silencing (VIGS) of the barley HvLRRK-6H compromised leaf defense against F. graminearum. VIGS of TaLRRK-6D in two wheat cultivars, CM82036 (resistant to FHB disease) and cv. Remus (susceptible to FHB), confirmed that TaLRRK-6D contributes to basal resistance to FHB disease in both genotypes. Although the effect of VIGS did not generally reduce grain losses due to FHB, this experiment did reveal that TaLRRK-6D positively contributes to grain development. Further gene expression studies in wheat cv. Remus indicated that VIGS of TaLRRK-6D suppressed the expression of genes involved in salicylic acid signaling, which is a key hormonal pathway involved in defense. Thus, this study provides the first evidence of receptor like kinases as an important component of cereal defense against Fusarium and highlights this gene as a target for enhancing cereal resistance to FHB disease.
  • A Novel Multivariate Approach to Phenotyping and Association Mapping of Multi-Locus Gametophytic Self-Incompatibility Reveals S, Z, and Other Loci in a Perennial Ryegrass (Poaceae) Population

    Thorogood, Daniel; Yates, Steven; Manzanares, Chloé; Skot, Leif; Hegarty, Matthew; Blackmore, Tina; Barth, Susanne; Studer, Bruno; Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council; Swiss National Science Foundation; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; BB/J004405/1; PP00P2 138988 (Frontiers, 2017-08-02)
    Self-incompatibility (SI) is a mechanism that many flowering plants employ to prevent fertilisation by self- and self-like pollen ensuring heterozygosity and hybrid vigour. Although a number of single locus mechanisms have been characterised in detail, no multi-locus systems have been fully elucidated. Historically, examples of the genetic analysis of multi-locus SI, to make analysis tractable, are either made on the progeny of bi-parental crosses, where the number of alleles at each locus is restricted, or on crosses prepared in such a way that only one of the SI loci segregates. Perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.) possesses a well-documented two locus (S and Z) gametophytic incompatibility system. A more universal, realistic proof of principle study was conducted in a perennial ryegrass population in which allelic and non-allelic diversity was not artificially restricted. A complex pattern of pollinations from a diallel cross was revealed which could not possibly be interpreted easily per se, even with an already established genetic model. Instead, pollination scores were distilled into principal component scores described as Compatibility Components (CC1-CC3). These were then subjected to a conventional genome-wide association analysis. CC1 associated with markers on linkage groups (LGs) 1, 2, 3, and 6, CC2 exclusively with markers in a genomic region on LG 2, and CC3 with markers on LG 1. BLAST alignment with the Brachypodium physical map revealed highly significantly associated markers with peak associations with genes adjacent and four genes away from the chromosomal locations of candidate SI genes, S- and Z-DUF247, respectively. Further significant associations were found in a Brachypodium distachyon chromosome 3 region, having shared synteny with Lolium LG 1, suggesting further SI loci linked to S or extensive micro-re-arrangement of the genome between B. distachyon and L. perenne. Significant associations with gene sequences aligning with marker sequences on Lolium LGs 3 and 6 were also identified. We therefore demonstrate the power of a novel association genetics approach to identify the genes controlling multi-locus gametophytic SI systems and to identify novel loci potentially involved in already established SI systems.
  • Crop Establishment Practices Are a Driver of the Plant Microbiota in Winter Oilseed Rape (Brassica napus)

    Rathore, Ridhdhi; Dowling, David N.; Forristal, Patrick D.; Spink, John; Cotter, Paul D.; Bulgarelli, Davide; Germaine, Kieran J.; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; Royal Society of Edinburgh/Scottish Government Personal Research Fellowship (Frontiers, 2017-08-09)
    Gaining a greater understanding of the plant microbiota and its interactions with its host plant heralds a new era of scientific discovery in agriculture. Different agricultural management practices influence soil microbial populations by changing a soil’s physical, chemical and biological properties. However, the impact of these practices on the microbiota associated with economically important crops such as oilseed rape, are still understudied. In this work we investigated the impact of two contrasting crop establishment practices, conventional (plow based) and conservation (strip–tillage) systems, on the microbiota inhabiting different plant microhabitats, namely rhizosphere, root and shoot, of winter oilseed rape under Irish agronomic conditions. Illumina 16S rRNA gene sequence profiling showed that the plant associated microhabitats (root and shoot), are dominated by members of the bacterial phyla Proteobacteria, Actinobacteria and Bacteroidetes. The root and shoot associated bacterial communities displayed markedly distinct profiles as a result of tillage practices. We observed a very limited ‘rhizosphere effect’ in the root zone of WOSR, i.e., there was little or no increase in bacterial community richness and abundance in the WOSR rhizosphere compared to the bulk soil. The two tillage systems investigated did not appear to lead to any major long term differences on the bulk soil or rhizosphere bacterial communities. Our data suggests that the WOSR root and shoot microbiota can be impacted by management practices and is an important mechanism that could allow us to understand how plants respond to different management practices and environments.
  • A critical review of integrated grass weed management in Ireland

    Byrne, R.; Spink, John; Freckleton, R.; Neve, P.; Barth, Susanne; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2018-04-10)
    Grass weeds affect arable crops throughout the world, inflicting yield penalties, reducing crop quality and taking available nutrients away from the growing crop. Recently in Ireland, the presence of herbicide resistance in grass weeds has been noted. In order to preserve the sustainability of crop production in Ireland, an integrated pest management approach must be implemented. How this applies to control grass weeds was the focus of this review. Here we examined the state of current research into grass weed biology and the nature of herbicide resistance, identifying gaps in research in the Irish context. We identified a number of cultural grass weed control techniques, as being relevant to the Irish mode of crop production. Crop rotation, cultivation techniques, manipulation of sowing dates and increased crop competition were recognised as useful strategies. Combining these strategies to provide effective grass weed control may be key to reduce dependence on herbicides.
  • A comparison of husked and naked oats under Irish conditions

    Hackett, Richie (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2018-02-22)
    During the harvesting of husked oats (Avena sativa L.), the kernel remains tightly enclosed by a lignified lemma and palea, collectively termed the husk or hull. In naked oats, which are the same species as husked oats, the lemma is much less lignified and the kernel threshes free during harvesting. The absence of the largely indigestible husk increases the nutritive value of naked oats compared to that of husked oats, particularly for non-ruminants and poultry. There is little information regarding the potential of naked oats as an arable crop in Ireland. The objective of this study was to determine the productivity of naked oats under Irish conditions. Field experiments were carried out in the south east of Ireland to compare the grain yield and grain quality of both autumn-sown and spring-sown naked and husked oat cultivars. Grain yield of naked oat cultivars was significantly lower than that of husked oat cultivars, irrespective of whether they were autumn sown or spring sown. However, when the kernel yield of husked oat cultivars was estimated, differences in yield between the two types were much smaller, and in some cases, kernel yield of naked oat cultivars exceeded that of husked oat cultivars. Grain quality, as indicated by hectolitre weight and grain N concentration, was generally greater for naked oat cultivars than for husked oat cultivars. It is concluded that under Irish conditions, naked oats have the potential to produce kernel yields equivalent to husked oats. The grain produced is of high quality and may be particularly suited for the nutrition of non-ruminants.
  • Assessment of water-limited winter wheat yield potential at spatially contrasting sites in Ireland using a simple growth and development model

    Lynch, J. P.; Fealy, Reamonn; Doyle, D.; Black, L.; Spink, John; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 19/09/2017)
    Although Irish winter wheat yields are among the highest globally, increases in the profitability of this crop are required to maintain its economic viability. However, in order to determine if efforts to further increase Irish wheat yields are likely to be successful, an accurate estimation of the yield potential is required for different regions within Ireland. A winter wheat yield potential model (WWYPM) was developed, which estimates the maximum water-limited yield achievable, within the confines of current genetic resources and technologies, using parameters for winter wheat growth and development observed recently in Ireland and a minor amount of daily meteorological input (maximum and minimum daily temperature, total daily rainfall and total daily incident radiation). The WWYPM is composed of three processes: (i) an estimation of potential green area index, (ii) an estimation of light interception and biomass accumulation and (iii) an estimation of biomass partitioning to grain yield. Model validation indicated that WWYPM estimations of water-limited yield potential (YPw) were significantly related to maximum yields recorded in variety evaluation trials as well as regional average and maximum farm yields, reflecting the model’s sensitivity to alterations in the climatic environment with spatial and seasonal variations. Simulations of YPw for long-term average weather data at 12 sites located at spatially contrasting regions of Ireland indicated that the typical YPw varied between 15.6 and 17.9 t/ha, with a mean of 16.7 t/ha at 15% moisture content. These results indicate that the majority of sites in Ireland have the potential to grow high-yielding crops of winter wheat when the effects of very high rainfall and other stresses such as disease incidence and nutrient deficits are not considered.
  • Genomic prediction of crown rust resistance in Lolium perenne

    Arojju, Sai Krishna; Conaghan, Patrick; Barth, Susanne; Milbourne, Dan; Casler, Michael D.; Hodkinson, Trevor R.; Michel, Thibauld; Byrne, Stephen L.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; Marie Sklodowska-Curie; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; RSF 11/S/109; 658031; 658031 (Biomed Central, 29/05/2018)
    Background Genomic selection (GS) can accelerate genetic gains in breeding programmes by reducing the time it takes to complete a cycle of selection. Puccinia coronata f. sp lolli (crown rust) is one of the most widespread diseases of perennial ryegrass and can lead to reductions in yield, persistency and nutritional value. Here, we used a large perennial ryegrass population to assess the accuracy of using genome wide markers to predict crown rust resistance and to investigate the factors affecting predictive ability. Results Using these data, predictive ability for crown rust resistance in the complete population reached a maximum of 0.52. Much of the predictive ability resulted from the ability of markers to capture genetic relationships among families within the training set, and reducing the marker density had little impact on predictive ability. Using permutation based variable importance measure and genome wide association studies (GWAS) to identify and rank markers enabled the identification of a small subset of SNPs that could achieve predictive abilities close to those achieved using the complete marker set. Conclusion Using a GWAS to identify and rank markers enabled a small panel of markers to be identified that could achieve higher predictive ability than the same number of randomly selected markers, and predictive abilities close to those achieved with the entire marker set. This was particularly evident in a sub-population characterised by having on-average higher genome-wide linkage disequilibirum (LD). Higher predictive abilities with selected markers over random markers suggests they are in LD with QTL. Accuracy due to genetic relationships will decay rapidly over generations whereas accuracy due to LD will persist, which is advantageous for practical breeding applications.
  • Ensifer-mediated Arabidopsis thaliana Root Transformation (E-ART): A Protocol to Analyse the Factors that Support Ensifer-mediated Transformation (EMT) of Plant Cells

    Rathore, Deeraj Singh; Doohan, Fiona M.; Mullins, Ewen; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Bio-protocol LLC, 05/10/2017)
    Ensifer adhaerens OV14, a soil borne alpha-proteobacteria of the Rhizobiaceae family, fortifies the novel plant transformation technology platform termed ‘Ensifer-mediated transformation’ (EMT). EMT can stably transform both monocot and dicot species, and the host range of EMT is continuously expanding across a diverse range of crop species. In this protocol, we adapted a previously published account that describes the use of Arabidopsis thaliana roots to investigate the interaction of A. thaliana and Agrobacterium tumefaciens. In our laboratory, we routinely use A. thaliana root explants to examine the factors that enhance the utility of EMT. In addition, the E-ART protocol can be used to study the transcriptional response of E. adhaerens and host plant following exposure to explant tissue, the transformability of different Ensifer adhaerens strains/mutants as well as testing the susceptibility of A. thaliana mutant lines as a means to decipher the mechanisms underpinning EMT.
  • Quantitative trait loci associated with different polar metabolites in perennial ryegrass - providing scope for breeding towards increasing certain polar metabolites

    Foito, Alexandre; Hackett, Christine A; Stewart, Derek; Velmurugan, Janaki; Milbourne, Dan; Byrne, Stephen L; Barth, Susanne; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; RSF 06–346 (Biomed Central, 10/10/2017)
    Background Recent advances in the mapping of biochemical traits have been reported in Lolium perenne. Although the mapped traits, including individual sugars and fatty acids, contribute greatly towards ruminant productivity, organic acids and amino acids have been largely understudied despite their influence on the ruminal microbiome. Results In this study, we used a targeted gas-chromatography mass spectrometry (GC-MS) approach to profile the levels of 25 polar metabolites from different classes (sugars, amino acids, phenolic acids, organic acids and other nitrogen-containing compounds) present in a L. perenne F2 population consisting of 325 individuals. A quantitative trait (QTL) mapping approach was applied and successfully identified QTLs regulating seven of those polar metabolites (L-serine, L-leucine, glucose, fructose, myo-inositol, citric acid and 2, 3-hydroxypropanoic acid).Two QTL mapping approaches were carried out using SNP markers on about half of the population only and an imputation approach using SNP and DArT markers on the entire population. The imputation approach confirmed the four QTLs found in the SNP-only analysis and identified a further seven QTLs. Conclusions These results highlight the potential of utilising molecular assisted breeding in perennial ryegrass to modulate a range of biochemical quality traits with downstream effects in livestock productivity and ruminal digestion.
  • Response of two-row and six-row barley to fertiliser N under Irish conditions

    Hackett, Richard (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2016-12-30)
    A range of cultivar types, including two-row and six-row types as well as line and hybrid types, are used for winter barley production in Ireland. There is little information available on the fertiliser nitrogen (N) requirements or the N use efficiency of these different types, particularly under Irish conditions. The objectives of the work presented here were to compare the response to fertiliser N of a two-row line cultivar, a six-row line cultivar and a six-row hybrid cultivar in terms of grain yield and aspects of N use efficiency. Experiments were carried out over three growing seasons, in the period 2012-2014, on a light-textured soil comparing the response of the three cultivars of winter barley to fertiliser N application rates ranging from 0 to 260 kg N/ha. There was no evidence that cultivar type, regardless of whether it was a two-row or six-row line cultivar or a six-row hybrid cultivar, influenced the response to fertiliser N of winter barley. There were some indications that six-row cultivars were less efficient at recovering soil N but used accumulated N more efficiently than the two-row cultivar. This work provided no evidence to support adjustment of fertiliser N inputs to winter barley based on cultivar type
  • Effect of nitrogen fertilizer application timing on nitrogen use efficiency and grain yield of winter wheat in Ireland.

    Efretuei, A.; Gooding, M.; White, E.; Spink, John; Hackett, Richard (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2016-12-01)
    The objectives of this work were to determine the effects of initiating application of fertilizer nitrogen (N) to winter wheat at different growth stages (GSs) on grain yield and N use efficiency (NUE). A factorial experiment was carried out in two growing seasons (2011 and 2012) with five timings of first N application (GS 24/26 [tillering], GS 30, GS 31, GS 32 or GS 37) and an unfertilized control, two sowing densities (100 and 400 seeds/m2) and a cattle slurry treatment (with or without slurry). The latter was included to simulate variation in soil N supply (SNS). Delaying the first application of N from the tillering stage until GS 30 had no significant effect on grain yield in either year. Further delaying the initial N application until GS 31 caused a significant yield reduction in 2011, in comparison to GS 30 application, but not in 2012. Differences in efficiency of recovery and use of fertilizer N by the crop among the first three application timings were small. There was no evidence to support alteration in the timing of the first application of N in response to low plant density. Slurry application did not influence SNS, so the interaction between SNS and fertilizer N application timing could not be determined. It is concluded that in order to maximise yield and NUE, the first N application should be applied to winter wheat between late tillering and GS 30 and that delaying the first N until GS 31 can lead to yield reductions compared to the yield obtained with earlier application.
  • A temporal assessment of nematode community structure and diversity in the rhizosphere of cisgenic Phytophthora infestans-resistant potatoes

    Ortiz, Vilma; Phelan, Sinead; Mullins, Ewen; European Union; KBBE.2011.3.5-01 (Biomed Central, 01/12/2016)
    Background Nematodes play a key role in soil processes with alterations in the nematode community structure having the potential to considerably influence ecosystem functioning. As a result fluctuations in nematode diversity and/or community structure can be gauged as a ‘barometer’ of a soil’s functional biodiversity. However, a deficit exists in regards to baseline knowledge and on the impact of specific GM crops on soil nematode populations and in particular in regard to the impact of GM potatoes on the diversity of nematode populations in the rhizosphere. The goal of this project was to begin to address this knowledge gap in regards to a GM potato line, cisgenically engineered for resistance to Phytophthora infestans (responsible organism of the Irish potato famine causing late blight disease). For this, a 3 year (2013, 2014, 2015) field experimental study was completed, containing two conventional genotypes (cvs. Desiree and Sarpo Mira) and a cisgenic genotype (cv. Desiree + Rpi-vnt1). Each potato genotype was treated with different disease management strategies (weekly chemical applications and corresponding no spray control). Hence affording the opportunity to investigate the temporal impact of potato genotype, disease management strategy (and their interaction) on the potato rhizosphere nematode community. Results Nematode structure and diversity were measured through established indices, accounts and taxonomy with factors recording a significant effect limited to the climatic conditions across the three seasons of the study and chemical applications associated with the selected disease management strategy. Based on the metrics studied, the cultivation of the cisgenic potato genotype exerted no significant effect (P > 0.05) on nematode community diversity or structure. The disease management treatments led to a reduction of specific trophic groups (e.g. Predacious c–p = 4), which of interest appeared to be counteracted by a potato genotype with vigorous growth phenotype e.g. cv. Sarpo Mira. The fluctuating climates led to disparate conditions, with enrichment conditions (bacterial feeding c–p = 1) dominating during the wet seasons of 2014 and 2015 versus the dry season of 2013 which induced an environmental stress (functional guild c–p = 2) on nematode communities. Conclusions Overall the functional guild indices in comparison to other indices or absolutes values, delivered the most accurate quantitative measurement with which to determine the occurrence of a specific disturbance relative to the cultivation of the studied cisgenic P. infestans-resistant potatoes.
  • Distribution and incidence of viruses in Irish seed potato crops

    Hutton, Fiona; Spink, John H.; Griffin, Denis; Kildea, Stephen; Bonner, D.; Doherty, G.; Hunter, A. (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 30/12/2015)
    Virus diseases are of key importance in potato production and in particular for the production of disease-free potato seed. However, there is little known about the frequency and distribution of potato virus diseases in Ireland. Despite a large number of samples being tested each year, the data has never been collated either within or across years. Information from all known potato virus testing carried out in the years 2006–2012 by the Department of Agriculture Food and Marine was collated to give an indication of the distribution and incidence of potato virus in Ireland. It was found that there was significant variation between regions, varieties, years and seed classes. A definition of daily weather data suitable for aphid flight was developed, which accounted for a significant proportion of the variation in virus incidence between years. This use of weather data to predict virus risk could be developed to form the basis of an integrated pest management approach for aphid control in Irish potato crops.
  • Markers associated with heading and aftermath heading in perennial ryegrass full-sib families

    Arojju, Sai K; Barth, Susanne; Milbourne, Dan; Conaghan, Patrick; Velmurugan, Janaki; Hodkinson, Trevor R; Byrne, Stephen L; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; EU Marie-Sklodowska-Curie Fellowship; RSF 14/S/819; H2020-MSCA-IF: 658031 (Biomed Central, 16/07/2016)
    Background Heading and aftermath heading are important traits in perennial ryegrass because they impact forage quality. So far, genome-wide association analyses in this major forage species have only identified a small number of genetic variants associated with heading date that overall explained little of the variation. Some possible reasons include rare alleles with large phenotypic affects, allelic heterogeneity, or insufficient marker density. We established a genome-wide association panel with multiple genotypes from multiple full-sib families. This ensured alleles were present at the frequency needed to have sufficient statistical power to identify associations. We genotyped the panel via partial genome sequencing and performed genome-wide association analyses with multi-year phenotype data collected for heading date, and aftermath heading. Results Genome wide association using a mixed linear model failed to identify any variants significantly associated with heading date or aftermath heading. Our failure to identify associations for these traits is likely due to the extremely low linkage disequilibrium we observed in this population. However, using single marker analysis within each full-sib family we could identify markers and genomic regions associated with heading and aftermath heading. Using the ryegrass genome we identified putative orthologs of key heading genes, some of which were located in regions of marker-trait associations. Conclusion Given the very low levels of LD, genome wide association studies in perennial ryegrass populations are going to require very high SNP densities. Single marker analysis within full-sibs enabled us to identify significant marker-trait associations. One of these markers anchored proximal to a putative ortholog of TFL1, homologues of which have been shown to play a key role in continuous heading of some members of the rose family, Rosaceae.
  • Variation in sequences containing microsatellite motifs in the perennial biomass and forage grass, Phalaris arundinacea (Poaceae)

    Barth, Susanne; Jankowska, Marta J; Hodkinson, Trevor R; Vellani, Tia; Klaas, Manfred; European Union; KBBE-2011-5-289461). (Biomed Central, 22/03/2016)
    Forty three microsatellite markers were developed for further genetic characterisation of a forage and biomass grass crop, for which genomic resources are currently scarce. The microsatellite markers were developed from a normalized EST-SSR library. All of the 43 markers gave a clear banding pattern on 3 % Metaphor agarose gels. Eight selected SSR markers were tested in detail for polymorphism across eleven DNA samples of large geographic distribution across Europe. The new set of 43 SSR markers will help future research to characterise the genetic structure and diversity of Phalaris arundinacea, with a potential to further understand its invasive character in North American wetlands, as well as aid in breeding work for desired biomass and forage traits. P. arundinacea is particularly valued in the northern latitude as a crop with high biomass potential, even more so on marginal lands.
  • A disease resistance locus on potato and tomato chromosome 4 exhibits a conserved multipartite structure displaying different rates of evolution in different lineages

    Destefanis, Marialaura; Nagy, Istvan; Rigney, Brian; Bryan, Glenn J; McLean, Karen; Hein, Ingo; Griffin, Denis; Milbourne, Dan; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; European Commission (Biomed Central, 24/10/2015)
    Background In plant genomes, NB-LRR based resistance (R) genes tend to occur in clusters of variable size in a relatively small number of genomic regions. R-gene sequences mostly differentiate by accumulating point mutations and gene conversion events. Potato and tomato chromosome 4 harbours a syntenic R-gene locus (known as the R2 locus in potato) that has mainly been examined in central American/Mexican wild potato species on the basis of its contribution to resistance to late blight, caused by the oomycete pathogen Phytophthora infestans. Evidence to date indicates the occurrence of a fast evolutionary mode characterized by gene conversion events at the locus in these genotypes. Results A physical map of the R2 locus was developed for three Solanum tuberosum genotypes and used to identify the tomato syntenic sequence. Functional annotation of the locus revealed the presence of numerous resistance gene homologs (RGHs) belonging to the R2 gene family (R2GHs) organized into a total of 4 discrete physical clusters, three of which were conserved across S. tuberosum and tomato. Phylogenetic analysis showed clear orthology/paralogy relationships between S. tuberosum R2GHs but not in R2GHs cloned from Solanum wild species. This study confirmed that, in contrast to the wild species R2GHs, which have evolved through extensive sequence exchanges between paralogs, gene conversion was not a major force for differentiation in S. tuberosum R2GHs, and orthology/paralogy relationships have been maintained via a slow accumulation of point mutations in these genotypes. Conclusions S. tuberosum and Solanum lycopersicum R2GHs evolved mostly through duplication and deletion events, followed by gradual accumulation of mutations. Conversely, widespread gene conversion is the major evolutionary force that has shaped the locus in Mexican wild potato species. We conclude that different selective forces shaped the evolution of the R2 locus in these lineages and that co-evolution with a pathogen steered selection on different evolutionary paths.
  • Technologies for restricting mould growth on baled silage

    O’Kiely, Padraig; Forristal, Dermot; O’Brien, Martin; McEniry, Joseph; Laffin, Christopher; Fuller, Hubert T.; Egan, Damian; Doohan, Fiona M.; Doyle, Evelyn M.; Clipson, Nicholas J.W.; McNally, Gerard M.; Small, Christopher M.; Nielsen, Kristian F.; Frisvad, Jens C. (Teagasc, 01/12/2007)
    Silage is made on approximately 86% of Irish farms, and 85% of these make some baled silage. Baled silage is particularly important as the primary silage making, storage and feeding system on many beef and smaller sized farms, but is also employed as a secondary system (often associated with facilitating grazing management during mid-summer) on many dairy and larger sized farms (O’Kiely et al., 2002). Previous surveys on farms indicated that the extent of visible fungal growth on baled silage was sometimes quite large, and could be a cause for concern. Whereas some improvements could come from applying existing knowledge and technologies, the circumstances surrounding the making and storage of baled silage suggested that environmental conditions within the bale differed from those in conventional silos, and that further knowledge was required in order to arrive at a secure set of recommendations for baled silage systems. This report deals with the final in a series (O’Kiely et al., 1999; O’Kiely et al., 2002) of three consecutive research projects investigating numerous aspect of the science and technology of baled silage. The success of each depended on extensive, integrated collaboration between the Teagasc research centres at Grange and Oak Park, and with University College Dublin. As the series progressed the multidisciplinary team needed to underpin the programme expanded, and this greatly improved the amount and detail of the research undertaken. The major objective of the project recorded in this report was to develop technologies to improve the “hygienic value” of baled silage.
  • Beef production from feedstuffs conserved using new technologies to reduce negative environmental impacts

    O’Kiely, Padraig; Crosson, Paul; Hamilton, William J.; Little, Enda; Stacey, Pamela; Walsh, Karl; Black, Alistair D; Crowley, James; Drennan, Michael J; Forristal, Dermot; Hackett, Richard; McGee, Mark; Moloney, Aidan P; O’Brien, Martin; O’Riordan, Edward G.; Rice, B.; Schulte, Rogier P.; O’Mara, Frank P.; Wallace, Michael; Nolan, William; Buttimer, Anne; Keane, George P.; Boland, Tommy; Rotz, C. Alan (Teagasc, 2007-12-01)
    Most (ca. 86%) Irish farms make some silage. Besides directly providing feed for livestock, the provision of grass silage within integrated grassland systems makes an important positive contribution to effective grazing management and improved forage utilisation by grazing animals, and to effective feed budgeting by farmers. It can also contribute to maintaining the content of desirable species in pastures, and to livestock not succumbing to parasites at sensitive times of the year. Furthermore, the optimal recycling of nutrients collected from housed livestock can often be best achieved by spreading the manures on the land used for producing the conserved feed. On most Irish farms, grass silage will remain the main conserved forage for feeding to livestock during winter for the foreseeable future. However, on some farms high yields of whole-crop (i.e. grain + straw) cereals such as wheat, barley and triticale, and of forage maize, will be an alternative option provided that losses during harvesting, storage and feedout are minimised and that input costs are restrained. These alternative forages have the potential to reliably support high levels of animal performance while avoiding the production of effluent. Their production and use however will need to advantageously integrate into ruminant production systems. A range of technologies can be employed for crop production and conservation, and for beef production, and the optimal options need to be identified. Beef cattle being finished indoors are offered concentrate feedstuffs at rates that range from modest inputs through to ad libitum access. Such concentrates frequently contain high levels of cereals such as barley or wheat. These cereals are generally between 14% to 18% moisture content and tend to be rolled shortly before being included in coarse rations or are more finely processed prior to pelleting. Farmers thinking of using ‘high-moisture grain’ techniques for preserving and processing cereal grains destined for feeding to beef cattle need to know how the yield, conservation efficiency and feeding value of such grains compares with grains conserved using more conventional techniques. European Union policy strongly encourages a sustainable and multifunctional agriculture. Therefore, in addition to providing European consumers with quality food produced within approved systems, agriculture must also contribute positively to the conservation of natural resources and the upkeep of the rural landscape. Plastics are widely used in agriculture and their post-use fate on farms must not harm the environment - they must be managed to support the enduring sustainability of farming systems. There is an absence of information on the efficacy of some new options for covering and sealing silage with plastic sheeting and tyres, and an absence of an inventory of the use, re-use and post-use fate of plastic film on farms. Irish cattle farmers operate a large number of beef production systems, half of which use dairy bred calves. In the current, continuously changing production and market conditions, new beef systems must be considered. A computer package is required that will allow the rapid, repeatable simulation and assessment of alternate beef production systems using appropriate, standardised procedures. There is thus a need to construct, evaluate and utilise computer models of components of beef production systems and to develop mathematical relationships to link system components into a network that would support their integration into an optimal system model. This will provide a framework to integrate physical and financial on-farm conditions with models for estimating feed supply and animal growth patterns. Cash flow and profit/loss results will be developed. This will help identify optimal systems, indicate the cause of failure of imperfect systems and identify areas where applied research data are currently lacking, or more basic research is required.
  • An Investigation of Seed Treatments for the Control of Crow Damage to Newly-Sown Wheat

    Kennedy, T.F.; Connery, J. (Teagasc, 28/02/2007)
    Seed treatments for the control of crow damage to newly-sown winter and spring wheat were evaluated in field trials from 2004 to 2007. Treatments included six fungicides, three insecticides, a product marketed as a bird repellent and three possible repellents. Various rates of selected compounds were investigated. Winter wheat was sown in December and spring wheat in late-January to mid-February. Sowing depth was 2 to 4 cm while some selected treatments were also sown at 5 to 9 cm deep. Crow damage was assessed by recording plant density and grain yield. Severe damage by crows was recorded. The plant population for untreated spring wheat seed in 2004, 2005 and 2006 was reduced by 59%, 72% and 89%, respectively. The corresponding reductions caused by crows to winter wheat sown in December 2004, 2005 and 2006 was 97%, 89% and 96%. Best control of crow damage was provided by the fungicide Thiram. Increasing the rate of Thiram applied to seed improved the control of crow damage by increasing plant density in the range 42 to 70% and 36 to 57%, respectively, for spring and winter wheat when compared with untreated seed. Anchor, which contains the fungicides Thiram and Carboxin, also gave reasonably good control. The commonly used fungicide product panoctine gave poor control of crow damage. Other treatments investigated were ineffective in controlling damage. Increasing the sowing depth to more than 4.6 cm significantly reduced damage to both treated and untreated seed when compared with similar treatments sown less than this depth.
  • Teagasc Research Report 2008, Crops Research Centre, Oak Park

    Crops Research Centre, Teagasc (Teagasc, 01/12/2008)
    This report details research projects at the Teagasc Crops Research Centre in 2008.

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