Seed breeder Elsoms has sponsored new research that could lead to canker-resistant parsnip varieties.
Plant pathologist Dr Lauren Chappell has identified the three main pathogens responsible for parsnip canker, providing a platform for the development of disease-resistant lines.
Known as the most economically-damaging disease for growers in the UK, canker thrives in damp conditions and blights parsnip roots with bruises or punctured skin. It typically accounts for annual crop losses of around 20 per cent.
Chappell’s studies were carried out at the Warwick Crop Centre in three stages: identifying current pathogens for canker, via a survey of samples from across the UK and Northern Europe; developing protocols for testing resistance to the identified pathogens; gene mapping studies to identify markers of disease resistance.
She said: “This project is a great example of how cutting edge research can offer direct benefits to parsnip growers. Canker causes massive economic damage every year and research such as this brings the prospect of reducing that impact through canker-resistant varieties closer than ever before.”
Following the research, Elsoms said it now has the knowledge base and tools needed to bring new resistant parsnip varieties to market.