Competitive Graduate Student Assistantship Program

Identification of steroidal saponins as a potential biochemical marker for Fusarium basal rot resistance screening of onions

Christopher S. Cramer and F. Omar Holguin (co-PIs), Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, and

Project Summary
The NMSU onion breeding program has been developing efficient disease screening procedures to select Fusarium Basal Rot (FBR)-resistant bulbs to improve NM grower profitability. PES Doctoral candidate Subhankar Mandal will be identifying steroidal saponins, pre-existing secondary metabolites in onions known to be antifungal compounds against the FBR-causing fungus Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. cepae. A high throughput biochemical screening of onion germplasm using these saponins could reduce the time and cost of developing FBR-resistant cultivars. The methods developed could be applicable for developing resistance against other soil-borne plant pathogens that cause vascular and root diseases.