Determination of wheat genotypes against single and multiple reactions of Fusarium culmorum and Pratylenchus thornei pathogens and role of wheat SWEET gene family in host-pathogen interaction

Description of the topic

  • Fusarium culmorum and Pratylenchus thornei, which are soil-borne pathogens, are very common in wheat cultivation areas in the world and can cause serious losses in wheat production. Since they are soil pathogens, the applicability of commonly used chemical control methods is quite limited. The most critical component in determining strategy programs in the control to these pathogens is the use of resistant / tolerant varieties. Investigation of sources of resistance against pathogens is an important criterion in breeding of resistant wheat varieties.
  • It is very important to investigate the damage caused by pathogens in wheat plants and also the reactions of the plant to pathogens. In addition, to evaluate host-plant interaction in combination of both pathogens will provide a new perspective to the research as it simulates the infection complex that occurs often in nature.
  • In the scope of this topic, to establish this simulation, Fusarium culmorum and Pratylenchus thornei pathogens as well as wheat genotypes. First, the reactions of the varieties against single and multiple infections will be determined. The project is the first comprehensive study to examine the multiple infection-host relationship. In addition, the results obtained from in vitro studies will be adapted to the field conditions and the status of varieties against both single and multiple infections under farmer conditions will be demonstrated.
  • In addition, phenotypic evaluations based on observations used in disease reaction tests extend the times of breeding studies due to factors such as time consuming, need for expert researcher, evaluation results vary according to the researcher performing the observation. Because of these compelling factors, many breeding programs do not include disease reaction tests.



  • The aim of this topic is to create new pathogenicity methods based on alternative and quantitative molecular techniques (Real-Time PCR SYBR Green I) to phenotypic testing. With this aspect, the project is unique. This method to be developed has the potential to allow the determination DNA amount of the pathogen in the tissues of wheat as well as the potential to be applied in other hosts of the pathogens is quite high.
  • The identification of an important gene family (SWEET) related to sugar transport in wheat plants has been identified newly. Modifications to homologous SWEET gene family members in different plants have shown that these genes play important roles in the formation of resistance status. We will investigate the role of this gene group in the infection stage by monitoring changes in the expression levels of the members of this gene family during infections. Thus, the importance of monitoring this gene family in breeding studies will be demonstrated. This work package of the project is quite unique.
  • The realization of the work packages within the scope of the study has the potential to provide important scientific / academic outputs. It will be the subject of doctorate and will provide important outputs for the training of researchers. In addition, the studies will provide important information about disease formation and resistance mechanisms and will contribute to the breeding of resistant varieties with the data and methods produced in this project.


Work expectations

In summary, in this study,

  • Realization of precise definitions and preliminary pathogenicity trials of the pathogen population / isolate obtained from CIMMYT,
  • In-vitro investigation of the single and multiple resistance levels of wheat genotypes against the pathogen population / isolates that were found to be the most aggressive,
  • Determination of the pathogen amount of Fusarium culmorum and Pratylenchus thornei in plant tissue in the most resistant and most sensitive varieties against single and multiple infections by quantitative Real-Time PCR method (development of faster and quantitative pathogenicity method and optimization study),
  • Comparison of single and multiple reactions of varieties found to be resistant or tolerant to Fusarium culmorum and Pratylenchus thornei with sensitive varieties under field conditions in in-vitro conditions,
  • The expression levels of the SWEET gene family during the infection of Fusarium culmorum and Pratylenchus thornei in sensitive and resistant varieties will be investigated.



  • Development, identification and inoculum creation of Fusarium culmorum and Pratylenchus thornei isolates
  • Reactions of wheat genotypes to Pratylenchus thornei and Fusarium culmorum isolates in vitro.
  • Real-Time PCR analysis of the total amount of biomass belonging to pathogens
  • Reactions of wheat genotypes against Pratylenchus thornei and Fusarium culmorum under field conditions.
  • Investigation of the expression levels of SWEET gene family against infections of Fusarium culmorum and Pratylenchus thornei in susceptible and resistant varieties.


Required skills

  • As a Molecular Biologist the candidate should have a basic knowledge about various lab skills such as PCR, ELISA, Western Blotting, Tissue Culture etc.


  • The candidate can always acquire different skill sets on the job, but the basic theoretical knowledge is essential.


  • Apart from technical expertise a molecular biologist should have a good understanding of Basic Biology. This can be acquired by literature review and a strong foundation in Biology theory.
  • Lastly a Biologist of any sort should have an inquisitive mind. Understanding why and how things work will make you a better scientist.
  • curiosity
  • pro-activity
  • problem solving: most of the time you will spend in lab would be 30% experiments and 70% trouble-shooting ( if no more )
  • patient and resilience: linked to the previous point. Not always the experiments will return a positive result at the first shot, the candidate have to be able to track back what you did wrong or what you can change/adjust/improve to have a positive result.