2023 Graduate Award Winner

Dilini Adihetty

Project: Variation in the virulence, host resistance and fungicide sensitivity in the western Canadian Cochliobolus sativus. A pathogen that attacks barley. Dilini is a MSc Student/Research Assistant in the Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science. Western Canadian barley mainly comes from Alberta and is known for its high quality. Moreover, this region contributes to more than 95% of barley production in the nation (Barley Harvest Annual Report, 2022). However, foliar diseases such as spot blotch caused by the pathogen Cochliobolus sativus destroy healthy barley leaf area, thus limiting the plant’s ability to set yield and fill grain, ultimately resulting in yield and quality losses (Turkington et al., 2011). Crop rotation, fungicide treatments, and use of resistant varieties are the standard practices recommended against this pathogen. However, significant gaps in our knowledge and understanding of the current pathogen population variability in the western Prairie region limit the effectiveness of one or more of these management practices. Dilini’s research is mainly focused on characterizing the current C. sativus population in western Canada by assessing variability in relation to virulence, host resistance, fungicide sensitivity and host-pathogen interaction using infected leaf samples collected from fields in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.