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The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia by and on behalf of Valdosta State University

Verified 501(c)(3) Non-Profit

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Project Description

Cercospora arachidicola is a fungal pathogen of peanut causing Early Leaf Spot disease (ELS). Infections result in brown necrotic lesions and increased levels of the plant hormone ethylene, which can lead to premature defoliation and eventually fruit drop. Premature fruit drop is the main way that ELS reduces yield, which can be 50% lower if disease is not controlled. Some peanut varieties are tolerant to ELS, maintaining fruits despite high levels of disease. Knowledge about the mechanisms of tolerance could allow more tolerant genotypes to be identified and incorporated into breeding programs, but tolerance in this pathosystem has yet to be studied at this level. One hypothesis is that tolerant plants are less stressed and produce less ethylene in response to C. arachidicola infections. This study will test this hypothesis by comparing ethylene release and a standard measure of plant stress, Fv/Fm, for varieties with and without tolerance at various levels of disease. The peanut varieties to be studied are Tifguard (tolerant), GA-06G (semi-tolerant), GA-09B (some tolerance), and Florun-107 (not tolerant). This project includes lab and field experiments.

In the lab study, leaves of greenhouse grown plants will be detached and treated with one of six concentrations of C. arachidicola spores. This is to create low to high levels of disease using a detached leaf bioassay. On days 14, 21, and 28, percent disease, plant stress and ethylene concentration will be measured. Percent disease will be quantified from photographs with the software program ASSESS 2.0. Stress will be measured for healthy portions of leaves (1.0×1.0 cm areas) using a chlorophyll fluorometer, and ethylene will be measured using a GC-MS from air samples collected from the headspace of each bioassay container.

In the field study, the four genotypes will undergo four fungicide treatments, including a full application program, where disease is controlled, an untreated control, where disease is not controlled, and two programs that provide intermediate levels of disease. The type of data collected in the field study will depend on the amount of CREU donations received. At minimum, the field experiment will be used to document the comparative level of ELS disease tolerance for these genotypes, which will require a final ELS disease assessment and estimation of peanut yield. If we are able to raise enough funds to purchase a portable chlorophyll fluorometer, plant stress will be measured for each plot multiple times throughout the growing season. With additional funds, a potable air sampling kit for ethylene will be purchased to estimate ethylene concentrations for each peanut plot at the start of defoliation (5-10% defoliation) and at the end of the growing season.

Both experiments will include 3 replications and be conducted twice to allow for publication of the results. Practice experiments are being conducted this semester to fine-tune the protocol. The lab study will run from June to August, and the field study from May to October. A research manuscript will be submitted for publication by the end of 2015, if all goes as planned.

Biography

• Jeremy Munnings- Currently a senior Biology major at Valdosta State University with a projected graduation date of May, 2016. He is from Albany, Georgia and graduated from Lee County High School in 2012. He has worked in Dr. Emily Cantonwine’s plant pathology lab since September of 2013 as a lab and research assistant. He has received a $600 grant-in-aid-of-research from Sigma Xi, the funds of which will pay for GC analysis of ethylene in the lab study. He intends to attend graduate school following graduation from Valdosta State.

• Emily Cantonwine is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biology at Valdosta State University. She has a B.S. in Botany from Miami University, M.S. in Biology from Florida International University, and PhD in Plant Pathology from the University of Georgia. She has worked on ELS of peanut for thirteen years, and directed fifteen undergraduate research projects, three of which resulted in or were included in peer-reviewed journal publications.

Expected project outcomes

•We expect to submit for publication the results of the project by the end of 2015. The journals Phytopatholgy, Plant Physiology, Plant Disease, and Peanut Science are up for consideration.

•We expect to present the proposal for the project at GAPP 2015 conference (Georgia Association of Plant Pathologists) and the results at the APS (American Phytopathological Society) Southern Division conference in 2016.

Will any products of the project be made available to donors (please specify)?

• The project’s progress will be updated regularly via the Facebook page.

• Donors will receive a copy of the paper after publication.

• Donors will have access to the poster version of the final project report via ePosters.

Budget 

Supplies:

• ASSESS 2.0 software program, APS Press = $725

• Glass Containers for Bioassay = $ 375

• General Supplies = $ 47.50

Student Travel:

• To field site for data collection. From Valdosta State University, Valdosta, Georgia to UGA Tifton Coastal Plain Experiment Station, Tifton, Georgia [3x 100 miles round trip @ 0.575/mile (state travel reimbursement rate)] = $172.5

Other (please describe): N/A

TOTAL: $1320

Matching funds:

• Valdosta State University, Graduate School will provide $500 match if we meet the first goal and $1000 match if the second or third goals are reached.

• Valdosta State University, Department of Biology will provide a 25% matching contribution to each CREU donation

• University of Georgia, Dr. Albert Culbreath’s research laboratory, will provide materials, equipment, and labor for planting and maintenance of field plots.

Amount to raise on CREU: $615 ($500 VSU Graduate School Match & $205 VSU Biology Match of CREU)

How will any additional funds be used?

The $615 CREU amount that has been asked for is the baseline amount that will allow the experiment to be performed with potential for publication. However, the study could be performed to a much higher utility if we are able to acquire portable equipment that can be used in field conditions. 

If we raised $2706 CREU ($1000 VSU Graduate School Match & $902 VSU Match), we would be able to purchase a OSP30+ Handheld chlorophyll fluorometer ($3000). This would allow stress measurements to be recorded from field plants ($288 for additional travel) since the chlorophyll fluorometer that VSU currently owns is not field durable. 

If we were able to raise $4071 CREU ($1000 VSU Graduate School Match & $1357 VSU Match) we would be able to purchase a QA Supplies air sampling kit and enough ethylene quantification tubes ($1820) to complete the project at its maximum level. • Any funds raised with CREU beyond $4821 will be used to purchase additional ethylene quantification tubes to increase the frequency of ethylene measurements in the field.

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/vsuplantpathundergrad

CREU recommends this proposal at the Highly Recommended level.

Reviewers Comments

" Well designed undergraduate research project"

" I feel it is a solid project that is planned well enough to get the primary question answered - does high tolerance mean less stress?"

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