- To conduct greenhouse and field trials with naturally-hairy B. napus lines
- To identify genes responsible for hair production in Brassica species
- To provide genetically identifiable hair-bearing canola lines for the canola breeding community
Flea beetles are very economically damaging to canola. They feed voraciously on young canola seedlings as they emerge from the soil in spring making it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to grow canola without the use of insecticides. The most commonly used type of insecticide to control flea beetles are the neonicotinoids which have been linked to bee death and are now banned in many European countries and Canadian jurisdictions. Further restrictions on the use of this insecticide class will leave canola producers with few or no options to control flea beetles. Currently, there are no canola (Brassica napus) varieties with any level of natural resistance to flea beetles. This project builds on work begun by researchers at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the University of Saskatchewan which identified lines of B. napus that showed natural resistance to flea beetles by growing hairs on their leaves and stems. The hairs stopped the flea beetle's normal feeding pattern. This research will provide canola breeders with B. napus lines that produce hairs to be effective against flea beetles, as well as inheritance of this trait to future canola generations.