Many species of Myrtaceae exhibit varying sensitivity to infection by Austropuccinia psidii, placing many vulnerable Australian ecosystems at risk of decline. More research is needed to identify the defenses that enable some plants to resist A. psidii infection so that we can survey priority species in the field for resistant populations and prioritise germplasm collection. Small molecules called ‘metabolites’ which elicit these defenses in resistant plants can be detected by metabolomics methods. Our preliminary work has established that prior to infection resistant germplasm from the species Melaleuca quinquinervia contain metabolic signatures that differentiate them from hypersensitive and susceptible phenotypes.
Dr Michelle Moffitt from Western Sydney University is leading a project to employ metabolomics across a diverse selection of Myrtle Rust Action Plan priority species to establish a set of biomarkers that rapidly identify resistant plants without infection trials or previous genomic knowledge.
More information can be found here.