Now showing items 1-20 of 375

    • Exploring the sensitivity of visual soil evaluation to traffic-induced soil compaction

      Emmet-Booth, J.P.; Holden, N.M.; Fenton, Owen; Bondi, G.; Forristal, P.D.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; 13/S/468 (Elsevier BV, 2020-03)
      Visual Soil Evaluation (VSE) techniques are useful for assessing the impact of land management, particularly the identification and remediation of soil compaction. Despite an increasing body of VSE research, comparatively few studies have explored the sensitivity of VSE for capturing experimentally imposed compaction to estimate sensitivity and limit of detection. The aim of this research was to examine the ability of VSE techniques to indicate soil structure at different soil profile depths and to measure the associated soil productive function (yield) response to imposed compaction. A two-year experiment was conducted on sites with loam and sandy soils. Varying levels of wheeled traffic were imposed on plots in a randomised block design, prior to sowing winter barley (Hordeum vulgare L.). Quantitative crop and soil measurements were taken throughout the season in conjunction with VSE techniques, which assessed to 25 cm (VESS), 40 cm (Double Spade) and 80 cm (SubVESS) depth. Graduated changes were observed by soil and some crop quantitative measurements as traffic treatment varied. VESS and Double Spade successfully identified a graduated treatment effect at all sites to 40 cm depth, although diagnosis translated into a yield response for the loam but not the sandy soil. Correlation between VESS Sq scores and crop yield were found. SubVESS gave mixed signals and indicated impacts lower in the profile in certain instances. These impacts were not captured by quantitative soil measurements. This work highlights the capacity for VSE techniques to indicate soil structural damage, which may cause a crop yield response, therefore allowing appropriate soil management strategies to be deployed before yield penalties occur.
    • Genetic regulation of compost and plant degradation mechanisms in Agaricus bisporus

      Dunne, Keith; O' Donoghue, Martin-Timothy; Grogan, Helen; Heneghan, Mary; IT Sligo; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (2021-06-16)
      Agaricus bisporus (common button mushroom) is an economically significant mushroom with an annual global value in excess of $4.7 billion (Eastwood et al, 2015). When commercially grown, A. bisporus mushrooms are mostly picked from the first and second flush. This is due to the third flush resulting in reduced yields (Royse and Sanchez, 2008), which are also often more prone to disease. This occurs despite significant nutrients and nitrogen being available in the compost for A. bisporus to utilise. To further understand why this is occurring, microarray analysis was carried out on compost samples throughout a full commercial growth cycle, with the aim of identifying genes that may be responsible for this reduction in yield.
    • The arrival of a red invasive seaweed to a nutrient over-enriched estuary increases the spatial extent of macroalgal blooms

      Bermejo, Ricardo; MacMonagail, Michéal; Heesch, Svenja; Mendes, Ana; Edwards, Maeve; Fenton, Owen; Knöller, Kay; Daly, Eve; Morrison, Liam; Environmental Protection Agency; et al. (Elsevier BV, 2020-06)
      The red seaweed Agarophyton vermiculophyllum is an invasive species native to the north-west Pacific, which has proliferated in temperate estuaries of Europe, North America and Africa. Combining molecular identification tools, historical satellite imagery and one-year seasonal monitoring of biomass and environmental conditions, the presence of A. vermiculophyllum was confirmed, and the invasion was assessed and reconstructed. The analysis of satellite imagery identified the first bloom in 2014 and revealed that A. vermiculophyllum is capable of thriving in areas, where native bloom-forming species cannot, increasing the size of blooms (ca. 10%). The high biomass found during the peak bloom (>2 kg m−2) and the observation of anoxic events indicated deleterious effects. The monitoring of environmental conditions and biomass variability suggests an essential role of light, temperature and phosphorous in bloom development. The introduction of this species could be considered a threat for local biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in a global change context.
    • Sward composition and soil moisture conditions affect nitrous oxide emissions and soil nitrogen dynamics following urea-nitrogen application

      Bracken, Conor J.; Lanigan, Gary J.; Richards, Karl G.; Müller, Christoph; Tracy, Saoirse R.; Grant, James; Krol, Dominika; Sheridan, Helen; Lynch, Mary Bridget; Grace, Cornelia; et al. (Elsevier BV, 2020-06)
      Increased emissions of N2O, a potent greenhouse gas (GHG), from agricultural soils is a major concern for the sustainability of grassland agriculture. Emissions of N2O are closely associated with the rates and forms of N fertilisers applied as well as prevailing weather and soil conditions. Evidence suggests that multispecies swards require less fertiliser N input, and may cycle N differently, thus reducing N loss to the environment. This study used a restricted simplex-centroid experimental design to investigate N2O emissions and soil N cycling following application of urea-N (40 kg N ha−1) to eight experimental swards (7.8 m2) with differing proportions of three plant functional groups (grass, legume, herb) represented by perennial ryegrass (PRG, Lolium perenne), white clover (WC, Trifolium repens) and ribwort plantain (PLAN, Plantago lanceolata), respectively. Swards were maintained under two contrasting soil moisture conditions to examine the balance between nitrification and denitrification. Two N2O peaks coincided with fertiliser application and heavy rainfall events; 13.4 and 17.7 g N2O-N ha−1 day−1 (ambient soil moisture) and 39.8 and 86.9 g N2O-N ha−1 day−1 (wet soil moisture). Overall, cumulative N2O emissions post-fertiliser application were higher under wet soil conditions. Increasing legume (WC) proportions from 0% to 60% in multispecies swards resulted in model predicted N2O emissions increasing from 22.3 to 96.2 g N2O-N ha−1 (ambient soil conditions) and from 59.0 to 219.3 g N2O-N ha−1 (wet soil conditions), after a uniform N application rate. Soil N dynamics support denitrification as the dominant source of N2O especially under wet soil conditions. Significant interactions of PRG or WC with PLAN on soil mineral N concentrations indicated that multispecies swards containing PLAN potentially inhibit nitrification and could be a useful mitigation strategy for N loss to the environment from grassland agriculture.
    • Nitrogen fertilisers with urease inhibitors reduce nitrous oxide and ammonia losses, while retaining yield in temperate grassland

      Krol, Dominika; Forrestal, P. J.; Wall, David P.; Lanigan, G. J.; Sanz-Gomez, J.; Richards, K. G.; Irish Research Council; EPSPD/2016/54 (Elsevier, 2020-04-02)
      Nitrogen fertilisation, although a cornerstone of modern agricultural production, negatively impacts the environment through gaseous losses of nitrous oxide (N2O), a potent greenhouse gas (GHG), and ammonia (NH3), a known air pollutant. The aim of this work was to assess the feasibility of urea treated with urease inhibitors to reduce gaseous N losses in temperate grassland, while maintaining or improving productivity compared to conventional fertiliser formulations. Urease inhibitors were N-(n-butyl)-thiophosphoric triamide (NBPT) (urea + NBPT) and N-(n-propyl)-thiophosphoric triamide (NPPT) (urea+ NBPT + NPPT), while conventional fertilisers were urea and calcium ammonium nitrate (CAN). N2O emission factors were 0.06%, 0.07%, 0.09% and 0.58% from urea + NBPT, urea, urea + NBPT + NPPT and CAN, respectively, with CAN significantly higher than all the urea formulations, which were not significantly different from each other. Ammonia loss measured over one fertiliser application was significantly larger from urea, at 43%, compared with other formulations at 13.9%, 13.8% and 5.2% from urea + NBPT, urea + NBPT + NPPT and CAN, respectively. Changing fertiliser formulation had no significant impact on grass yield or N uptake in four out of five harvests. In the last harvest urea + NBPT significantly out-yielded urea, but not CAN or urea + NBPT + NPPT. Overall, urea treated with either one or both urease inhibitors significantly reduced emissions of N2O and NH3, while preserving yield quantity and quality. Therefore, changing fertiliser formulation to these products should be encouraged as a strategy to reduce GHG and air pollution from agricultural practices in temperate climate.
    • Proteomic investigation of interhyphal interactions between strains of Agaricus bisporus

      O’Connor, Eoin; Owens, Rebecca A.; Doyle, Sean; Amini, Aniça; Grogan, Helen; Fitzpatrick, David; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; Science Foundation Ireland; 10564231; SFI 12/RI/2346(3) (Elsevier BV, 2020-06)
      Hyphae of filamentous fungi undergo polar extension, bifurcation and hyphal fusion to form reticulating networks of mycelia. Hyphal fusion or anastomosis, a ubiquitous process among filamentous fungi, is a vital strategy for how fungi expand over their substrate and interact with or recognise self- and non-self hyphae of neighbouring mycelia in their environment. Morphological and genetic characterisation of anastomosis has been studied in many model fungal species, but little is known of the direct proteomic response of two interacting fungal isolates. Agaricus bisporus, the most widely cultivated edible mushroom crop worldwide, was used as an in vitro model to profile the proteomes of interacting cultures. The globally cultivated strain (A15) was paired with two distinct strains; a commercial hybrid strain and a wild isolate strain. Each co-culture presented a different interaction ranging from complete vegetative compatibility (self), lack of interactions, and antagonistic interactions. These incompatible strains are the focus of research into disease-resistance in commercial crops as the spread of intracellular pathogens, namely mycoviruses, is limited by the lack of interhyphal anastomosis. Unique proteomic responses were detected between all co-cultures. An array of cell wall modifying enzymes, plus fungal growth and morphogenesis proteins were found in significantly (P < 0.05) altered abundances. Nitrogen metabolism dominated in the intracellular proteome, with evidence of nitrogen starvation between competing, non-compatible cultures. Changes in key enzymes of A. bisporus morphogenesis were observed, particularly via increased abundance of glucanosyltransferase in competing interactions and certain chitinases in vegetative compatible interactions only. Carbohydrate-active enzyme arsenals are expanded in antagonistic interactions in A. bisporus. Pathways involved in carbohydrate metabolism and genetic information processing were higher in interacting cultures, most notably during self-recognition. New insights into the differential response of interacting strains of A. bisporus will enhance our understanding of potential barriers to viral transmission through vegetative incompatibility. Our results suggest that a differential proteomic response occurs between A. bisporus at strain-level and findings from this work may guide future proteomic investigation of fungal anastomosis.
    • Exploring Climate‐Smart Land Management for Atlantic Europe

      Schulte, Rogier P. O.; O'Sullivan, Lilian; Coyle, Cait; Farrelly, Niall; Gutzler, Carsten; Lanigan, Gary; Torres‐Sallan, Gemma; Creamer, Rachel E.; Dairy Research Trust; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Wiley, 2016-09)
      Core Ideas Managing soil organic carbon is an essential aspect of climate‐smart agriculture. Combining component research, we derive a soil carbon management concept for Ireland. Optimized soil carbon management is differentiated in accordance with soil type. Existing policy tools can be tailored to incentivize climate‐smart land management. Soils can be a sink or source of carbon, and managing soil carbon has significant potential to partially offset agricultural greenhouse gas emissions. While European Union (EU) member states have not been permitted to account for this offsetting potential in their efforts to meet the EU 2020 reduction targets, this policy is now changing for the period 2020 to 2030, creating a demand for land management plans aimed at maximizing the offsetting potential of land. In this letter, we derive a framework for climate‐smart land management in the Atlantic climate zone of the EU by combining the results from five component research studies on various aspects of the carbon cycle. We show that the options for proactive management of soil organic carbon differ according to soil type and that a spatially tailored approach to land management will be more effective than blanket policies.
    • Combining transcriptomics and genetic linkage based information to identify candidate genes associated with Heterobasidion-resistance in Norway spruce

      Chaudhary, Rajiv; Lundén, Karl; Dalman, Kerstin; Dubey, Mukesh; Nemesio Gorriz, Miguel; Karlsson, Bo; Stenlid, Jan; Elfstrand, Malin; Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning; 2012-1276; et al. (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2020-07-29)
      The Heterobasidion annosum s.l species complex comprises the most damaging forest pathogens to Norway spruce. We revisited previously identified Quantitative Trait Loci (QTLs) related to Heterobasidion-resistance in Norway spruce to identify candidate genes associated with these QTLs. We identified 329 candidate genes associated with the resistance QTLs using a gene-based composite map for Pinaceae. To evaluate the transcriptional responses of these candidate genes to H. parviporum, we inoculated Norway spruce plants and sequenced the transcriptome of the interaction at 3 and 7 days post inoculation. Out of 298 expressed candidate genes 124 were differentially expressed between inoculation and wounding control treatment. Interestingly, PaNAC04 and two of its paralogs in the subgroup III-3 of the NAC family transcription factors were found to be associated with one of the QTLs and was also highly induced in response to H. parviporum. These genes are possibly involved in the regulation of biosynthesis of flavonoid compounds. Furthermore, several of the differentially expressed candidate genes were associated with the phenylpropanoid pathway including a phenylalanine ammonia-lyase, a cinnamoyl-CoA reductase, a caffeoyl-CoA O-methyltransferase and a PgMYB11-like transcription factor gene. Combining transcriptome and genetic linkage analyses can help identifying candidate genes for functional studies and molecular breeding in non-model species.
    • The elusive role of soil quality in nutrient cycling: a review

      Schröder, J. J.; Schulte, R. P. O.; Creamer, R. E.; Delgado, A.; Leeuwen, J.; Lehtinen, T.; Rutgers, M.; Spiegel, H.; Staes, J.; Tóth, G.; et al. (Wiley, 2016-09-16)
      Cycling of nutrients, including nitrogen and phosphorus, is one of the ecosystem services we expect agricultural soils to deliver. Nutrient cycling incorporates the reuse of agricultural, industrial and municipal organic residues that, misleadingly, are often referred to as ‘wastes’. The present review disentangles the processes underlying the cycling of nutrients to better understand which soil properties determine the performance of that function. Four processes are identified (i) the capacity to receive nutrients, (ii) the capacity to make and keep nutrients available to crops, (iii) the capacity to support the uptake of nutrients by crops and (iv) the capacity to support their successful removal in harvested crop. Soil properties matter but it is imperative that, as constituents of ‘soil quality’, they should be evaluated in the context of management options and climate and not as ends in their own right. The effect of a soil property may vary depending on the prevailing climatic and hydrologic conditions and on other soil properties. We recognize that individual soil properties may be enhancing one of the processes underlying the cycling of nutrients but simultaneously weakening others. Competing demands on soil properties are even more obvious when considering other soil functions such as primary production, purification and flow regulation of water, climate modification and habitat provision, as shown by examples. Consequently, evaluations of soil properties and management actions need to be site-specific, taking account of local aspects of their suitability and potential challenges.
    • Beneficial effects of multi-species mixtures on N2O emissions from intensively managed grassland swards

      Cummins, Saoirse; Finn, John; Richards, Karl; Lanigan, Gary; Grange, Guylain; Brophy, Caroline; Cardenas, Laura M.; Misselbrook, Tom H.; Reynolds, Chris K.; Krol, Dominika (2021)
    • Easy phylotyping of Escherichia coli via the EzClermont web app and command-line tool

      Waters, Nicholas R.; Abram, Florence; Brennan, Fiona; Holmes, Ashleigh; Pritchard, Leighton; The James Hutton Institute; National University of Ireland, Galway (Microbiology Society, 2020-09-01)
      The Clermont PCR method for phylotyping Escherichia coli remains a useful classification scheme even though genome sequencing is now routine, and higher-resolution sequence typing schemes are now available. Relating present-day whole-genome E. coli classifications to legacy phylotyping is essential for harmonizing the historical literature and understanding of this important organism. Therefore, we present EzClermont – a novel in silico Clermont PCR phylotyping tool to enable ready application of this phylotyping scheme to whole-genome assemblies. We evaluate this tool against phylogenomic classifications, and an alternative software implementation of Clermont typing. EzClermont is available as a web app at, and as a command-line tool at
    • Mid-infrared spectroscopy as an alternative to laboratory extraction for the determination of lime requirement in tillage soils

      Metzger, Konrad; Zhang, Chaosheng; Ward, Mark; Daly, Karen; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; Department for Agriculture Food and the Marine; RMIS 6837; 15/ICTAGRI 2 (Elsevier BV, 2020-04)
      Lime is a crucial soil conditioner to bring agricultural soils to optimum pH values for nutrient availability. Lime recommendations are typically determined in laboratory extractions, the most common being the “Shoemaker- McLean and Pratt” (SMP) buffer method, that requires carcinogenic reagents soon to be abolished under the EU legislation. As an alternative to wet chemistry, mid-infrared (MIR) spectroscopy has shown to be a cost-and time effective method at predicting soil properties. The capability and feasibility of diffuse reflectance infrared spectroscopy (DRIFTS) to predict lime requirement (LR) in tillage fields is examined. Samples from 41 cereal tillage fields (n = 655) are used to build a calibration for DRIFTS using partial least squares regression (PLSR). The samples were split into calibration set (31 fields, n=495) and validation set (10 fields, n= 160). After preprocessing with trim, smoothing and standard normal variate, a calibration model using 6 latent variables, provided R2 of 0.89 and root mean square error of cross-validation (RMSECV) of 1.56 t/ha. Prediction of all fields from the validation set resulted in R2 of 0.76 and root mean square error of prediction (RMSEP) of 1.68 t/ ha. The predictions of the single fields ranged from R2 values of 0.41 to 0.72, RMSEP of 0.48 to 4.2 t/ha and ratios of performance to inter-quartile distance (RPIQ) of 0.45 to 3.56. It was shown that the signals of soil constituents having an influence on the LR were picked up in the spectra and were identified in the loading weights of the PLSR. While the error is too high to predict the variability of LR within the field, MIR prediction using field averages provided a viable alternative to current laboratory methods for blanket spreading of lime on tillage fields.
    • Why Dairy Farming And Silvopastoral Agroforestry Could Be The Perfect Match

      Irish Agroforestry Forum; Short, Ian; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Irish Farm Business, 2020)
      Could we be missing a trick here? Could silvopasture be a design solution to the environmental challenges facing farming? Can it be the ideal mechanism to combine agriculture, forestry and ecology with very positive outcomes for farmers? Well -designed silvopasture can help increase profits and productivity, animal, and soil health, diversify the farm business, buffer against increasingly variable weather, drought and flood risks while benefiting the environment, the water cycle and the carbon cycle.
    • Genetic Analysis Using a Multi-Parent Wheat Population Identifies Novel Sources of Septoria Tritici Blotch Resistance

      Riaz, Adnan; KockAppelgren, Petra; Hehir, James Gerard; Kang, Jie; Meade, Fergus; Cockram, James; Milbourne, Dan; Spink, John; Mullins, Ewen; Byrne, Stephen; et al. (MDPI AG, 2020-08-04)
      Zymoseptoria tritici is the causative fungal pathogen of septoria tritici blotch (STB) disease of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) that continuously threatens wheat crops in Ireland and throughout Europe. Under favorable conditions, STB can cause up to 50% yield losses if left untreated. STB is commonly controlled with fungicides; however, a combination of Z. tritici populations developing fungicide resistance and increased restrictions on fungicide use in the EU has led to farmers relying on fewer active substances. Consequently, this serves to drive the emergence of Z. tritici resistance against the remaining chemistries. In response, the use of resistant wheat varieties provides a more sustainable disease management strategy. However, the number of varieties offering an adequate level of resistance against STB is limited. Therefore, new sources of resistance or improved stacking of existing resistance loci are needed to develop varieties with superior agronomic performance. Here, we identified quantitative trait loci (QTL) for STB resistance in the eight-founder “NIAB Elite MAGIC” winter wheat population. The population was screened for STB response in the field under natural infection for three seasons from 2016 to 2018. Twenty-five QTL associated with STB resistance were identified in total. QTL either co-located with previously reported QTL or represent new loci underpinning STB resistance. The genomic regions identified and the linked genetic markers serve as useful resources for STB resistance breeding, supporting rapid selection of favorable alleles for the breeding of new wheat cultivars with improved STB resistance.
    • Detection of Novel QTLs for Late Blight Resistance Derived from the Wild Potato Species Solanum microdontum and Solanum pampasense

      Meade, Fergus; Hutten, Ronald; Wagener, Silke; Prigge, Vanessa; Dalton, Emmet; Kirk, Hanne Grethe; Griffin, Denis; Milbourne, Dan; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; IPM Potato Group; et al. (MDPI AG, 2020-06-30)
      Wild potato species continue to be a rich source of genes for resistance to late blight in potato breeding. Whilst many dominant resistance genes from such sources have been characterised and used in breeding, quantitative resistance also offers potential for breeding when the loci underlying the resistance can be identified and tagged using molecular markers. In this study, F1 populations were created from crosses between blight susceptible parents and lines exhibiting strong partial resistance to late blight derived from the South American wild species Solanum microdontum and Solanum pampasense. Both populations exhibited continuous variation for resistance to late blight over multiple field-testing seasons. High density genetic maps were created using single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers, enabling mapping of quantitative trait loci (QTLs) for late blight resistance that were consistently expressed over multiple years in both populations. In the population created with the S. microdontum source, QTLs for resistance consistently expressed over three years and explaining a large portion (21–47%) of the phenotypic variation were found on chromosomes 5 and 6, and a further resistance QTL on chromosome 10, apparently related to foliar development, was discovered in 2016 only. In the population created with the S. pampasense source, QTLs for resistance were found in over two years on chromosomes 11 and 12. For all loci detected consistently across years, the QTLs span known R gene clusters and so they likely represent novel late blight resistance genes. Simple genetic models following the effect of the presence or absence of SNPs associated with consistently effective loci in both populations demonstrated that marker assisted selection (MAS) strategies to introgress and pyramid these loci have potential in resistance breeding strategies.
    • Predicting the Distribution of High Nature Value farmland in Ireland: IDEAL-HNV

      Finn, John; Sullivan, Caroline; O’hÚallacháin, Daire; green, stuart; Clifford, Brian; Matin, Shafique; Meredith, David; Moran, James (2020-08-28)
      Conference presentation outlining the IDEAL-HNV project
    • Environmental footprint family to address local to planetary sustainability and deliver on the SDGs

      Vanham, Davy; Leip, Adrian; Galli, Alessandro; Kastner, Thomas; Bruckner, Martin; Uwizeye, Aimable; van Dijk, Kimo; Ercin, Ertug; Dalin, Carole; Brandão, Miguel; et al. (Elsevier BV, 2019-07-29)
      The number of publications on environmental footprint indicators has been growing rapidly, but with limited efforts to integrate different footprints into a coherent framework. Such integration is important for comprehensive understanding of environmental issues, policy formulation and assessment of trade-offs between different environmental concerns. Here, we systematize published footprint studies and define a family of footprints that can be used for the assessment of environmental sustainability. We identify overlaps between different footprints and analyse how they relate to the nine planetary boundaries and visualize the crucial information they provide for local and planetary sustainability. In addition, we assess how the footprint family delivers on measuring progress towards Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), considering its ability to quantify environmental pressures along the supply chain and relating them to the water-energy-food-ecosystem (WEFE) nexus and ecosystem services. We argue that the footprint family is a flexible framework where particular members can be included or excluded according to the context or area of concern. Our paper is based upon a recent workshop bringing together global leading experts on existing environmental footprint indicators.
    • Biogeography of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal spore traits along an aridity gradient, and responses to experimental rainfall manipulation

      Deveautour, Coline; Chieppa, Jeff; Nielsen, Uffe N.; Boer, Matthias M.; Mitchell, Christopher; Horn, Sebastian; Power, Sally A.; Guillen, Alberto; Bennett, Alison E.; Powell, Jeff R.; et al. (Elsevier BV, 2020-08)
      Spore size, colour and melanin content are hypothesised to be functional in relation to environmental stress. Here, we studied AM fungal spores in arid environments of Australia and in an experimental platform simulating altered rainfall. We used microscopy and image analysis to measure spore colour and size, and a quantitative colorimetric assay to estimate melanin content in spores. In arid sites, melanin content tended to increase with increasing aridity. We observed a large range of spore colours at all sites but found a higher proportion of both dark and light spores, and fewer intermediate colours, in drier sites. Spore abundance and size varied among sites, but neither were related to aridity. In the experimental platform established in a grassland, we found no evidence that altered rainfall influenced spore traits. This study identifies traits associated with environmental stress to inform future work into AM fungal life history and assembly processes.
    • Annual replication is essential in evaluating the response of the soil microbiome to the genetic modification of maize in different biogeographical regions

      Szoboszlay, Márton; Näther, Astrid; Mullins, Ewen; Tebbe, Christoph C.; European Union; 289706 (Public Library of Science (PLoS), 2019-12-17)
      The importance of geographic location and annual variation on the detection of differences in the rhizomicrobiome caused by the genetic modification of maize (Bt-maize, event MON810) was evaluated at experimental field sites across Europe including Sweden, Denmark, Slovakia and Spain. DNA of the rhizomicrobiome was collected at the maize flowering stage in three consecutive years and analyzed for the abundance and diversity of PCR-amplified structural genes of Bacteria, Archaea and Fungi, and functional genes for bacterial nitrite reductases (nirS, nirK). The nirK genes were always more abundant than nirS. Maize MON810 did not significantly alter the abundance of any microbial genetic marker, except for sporadically detected differences at individual sites and years. In contrast, annual variation between sites was often significant and variable depending on the targeted markers. Distinct, site-specific microbial communities were detected but the sites in Denmark and Sweden were similar to each other. A significant effect of the genetic modification of the plant on the community structure in the rhizosphere was detected among the nirK denitrifiers at the Slovakian site in only one year. However, most nirK sequences with opposite response were from the same or related source organisms suggesting that the transient differences in community structure did not translate to the functional level. Our results show a lack of effect of the genetic modification of maize on the rhizosphere microbiome that would be stable and consistent over multiple years. This demonstrates the importance of considering annual variability in assessing environmental effects of genetically modified crops.
    • 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; Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine; European Union; et al. (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2018-05-29)
      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.