Clubroot (Plasmodiophora brassicae) is an important pathogen of Brassica crops including oil seed rape (OSR), both in the UK and worldwide. Clubroot infection occurs via root hair penetration (primary infection) and root cortex invasion (secondary infection), and leads into typical above and below-ground disease symptoms.
Infected plants develop large galls in the root system whilst above-ground symptoms include wilting, stunting, chlorosis, premature senescence and, in severe cases, death. All symptoms are caused through gradual changes in primary and secondary host metabolism, alterations in cambial stem cell maintenance and differentiation, and perturbations of vascular development with reduction in xylogenesis.
The aim of the project is to use EIT to directly measure below-ground responses as a complementary method of identifying quantitative resistance to clubroot infection in Brassica crops. Infection leads to an inhibition of lateral root formation, repression of xylogenesis, a localised induction of vascular cambium activity leading to gall formation and altered water relationships, all of which can potentially be measured and quantified using EIT.
The existing technology is to take x-ray images of the roots. This technology is fairly accurate however, is very expensive and is out of reach for most of farmer. Thus the idea is to build a technology that is relatively cheap. Thereby allowing all the dominions of the farming community to tap into this technology and detect/eliminate club roots at an earlier stage.