The fifth presentation in FABI’s popular International Seminar Series was by Prof. Katherine Denby whose presentation was titled “A systems approach to disease resistance against necrotrophic fungal pathogens”. Katherine is a Professor in the Biology Department at the University of York. Plant responses to biotic stress involve large-scale transcriptional reprogramming and transcriptional responses to different biotic and abiotic stresses overlap. Her research is using transcriptional information to speed up the identification, and exploitation, of genes conferring quantitative resistance against necrotrophic fungal pathogens in lettuce. She presented her findings from a study that generated high-resolution time series expression data from lettuce leaves following infection with two fungal pathogens, Botrytis cinera and Sclerotinia sclerotiorum.

Katherine also spoke about the Global Burden of Crop Loss, an initiative she is participating in that is modelled after the Global Burden of Disease initiative in human health, which has transformed health policy research, over the last 25 years through better use of data. Current data on the scale and causes of crop loss are sparse and outdated. Their Grand Challenges Call to Action Project will bring together people, data and ideas to work collaboratively on developing a data-driven system to help answer pressing questions on the scale, scope and impact of crop loss. Evidence on the drivers and impacts of crop loss will help direct funding, policy and research efforts to reduce crop loss at the farm level. A week-long Global Burden of Crop Loss online workshop will be hosted later this year from 26-29 October.

Click here to view the Global Burden of Crop Loss  presentation.