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BRCC - Restricting the pathogenic effect on barley of the endophytic fungus Ramularia collo-cygni

The Danish Council for Strategic Research – Grant: DKK 15.171.566

Project period: 01.01.2014 – 31.12.2018.

The first meeting of BRCC was held in Aarhus on Friday 21 February 2014.

The second meeting of BRCC was held in Edinburgh on Tuesday 25 February 2015.

Project description

Scientific summary

Ramularia collo-cygni (Rcc) is an infectious fungus of cereals and grasses that for unknown reasons, develops from an asymptomatic endophyte into a major pathogen of barley. The fast spreading, competitive and asymptomatic nature of Rcc during its endophytic stage represents a genuine challenge to cereal breeders and the deployment of plant protection products. No cultivars with very high expression of resistance have been identified, and no efficient diagnosis predicting a damaging attack exists.

In Denmark, Ramularia leaf spot (RLS) has been recognized as a major disease since 2002, and is scored by the official variety testing system, while in the UK resistance ratings are required for variety recommendation.

We aim to identify the timing, and key molecular and genetic components responsible for the switch from endophytic to pathogenic life style of Rcc, and to use these for the development of tools for barley breeding and for efficient disease diagnosis.

Our hypothesis is that barley can be bred to keep Rcc in its endophytic, non-symptomatic phase, and thereby yield losses due to RLS can be avoided.

By employing molecular, genetic and biological knowledge, reliable markers for breeding and for diagnosis of disease progression will be designed. We will

  1. phenotype barley varieties for their response to Rcc;
  2. combine genomic, transcriptomic and proteomic analyses to identify key molecular determinants for the plant-Rcc association;
  3. understand and define the events leading to the switch in Rcc lifestyles; and
  4. design markers for breeding of barley cultivars suppressing RLS disease symptoms due to infection with Rcc.

BRCC brings together, for the first time, leading international groups in the field into a team to integrate the knowledge on the partners i.e. the plant and the microbe.


Aarhus University, Denmark
The Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics

  • Elena Simona Radutoiu
  • Svend Dam
The Scottish Rural College, UK
  • Neil Havis
  • Graham McGrann
The Bioinformatics Center
  • Mikkel Schierup
  • Christian Storm Pedersen
The James Hutton Institute, UK
  • Adrian Newton
  • Euan James

The University of Copenhagen, Denmark

  • Michael Foged Lyngkjær

Sejet Plantbreeding I/S, Denmark

  • Rasmus Lund Hjortshøj


Developing tools to combat fungi in barley

Fungal contamination of barley crops can cause reduced yields due to the disease leaf spot. A team of Danish and Scottish researchers will now develop tools to breed resistant varieties of barley and provide an early diagnosis of outbreaks so the disease can be reduced or eliminated. The Danish Council for Strategic Research has just granted Associate Professor Simona Radutoiu DKK 15.2 million for the project.

Read more about the research