Plant Breeding Institute

Cloning the Rhizomania Resistance Gene Rz2 from Beta vulgaris ssp. maritima



Rhizomania is one of the most important sugar beet diseases in Germany as well as worldwide causing losses in sugar yield of up to 80% (Casarini, 1999). Rhizomania is controlled by the use of resistant sugar beet varieties, which are mostly derived from the “Holly” resistance source with the major gene Rz1. Due to global warming, disease pressure is expected to increase as well as the occurrence of more aggressive virus isolates. This could lead to a breakdown of rhizomania resistance currently available. Therefore, in order to secure sugar beet production in Western Europe as well as worldwide, new resistance sources have to be identified. The identification of new resistance genes and their introgression into elite breeding is a laborious and time consuming process. In order to facilitate this, we aimed at identifying the resistance gene Rz2 in a crop wild relative (CRW) natural population.


Here, we showed that using CWR populations collected in their natural habitat not only provide access to agronomically important traits but can serve to directly identify genes underlying these traits. Gene identification has been done so far mainly in three types of populations: germplasm collections, elite breeding materials, and synthetic populations such as biparental or Multi-parent Advanced Generation Inter-Crossed (MAGIC) populations. Compared to those populations, CWR populations have usually undergone many generations of outcrossing resulting in low linkage disequilibrium (LD) and high population admixture. We demonstrate the potential of CWR populations for gene level resolution mapping by identifying the sugar beet (Beta vulgaris ssp. vulgaris) rhizomania resistance locus Rz2 in a wild beet population of Beta vulgaris ssp. maritima through a modified version of Mapping-By-Sequencing (MBS). The results not only confirmed in yet another case the potential of CWR for crop improvement and the importance of preserving CWR in their natural habitats, but also provide access to an agronomically important gene for resistance against rhizomania that encodes a CC-NB-LRR protein. Access to the DNA sequence of Rz2 allows the improvement of resistance against rhizomania, not only by marker assisted breeding but also by genome editing.

Project team

Dr. Gina Capistrano
Dr. Friedrich Kopisch-Obuch
Sebastian Frerichmann
Meike Pfeiler
Monika Bruisch


Capistrano-Gossmann, G.G., Ries, D., Holtgräwe, D., Minoche, A., Kraft, T., Frerichmann, S.L.M., Rosleff Soerensen, T.,  Dohm, J. C., González, I., Schilhabel, M., Varrelmann, M., Tschoep, H., Uphoff, H., Lein, J.C., Mechelke, W., Schechert, A.W., Frese, L., Himmelbauer, H., Weisshaar, B., Kopisch-Obuch, F. J.
Crop wild relative populations of Beta vulgaris ssp. maritima allow direct mapping and rapid identification of agronomically important genes.
Nature Communications 8: 15708, 2017; doi:10.1038/ncomms15708.

G. Capistrano-Goßmann (2015) Erfolgsstory: Rizomaniaresistenz in Zuckerrüben. GFPi Geschäftsbericht 2015, 8-9.

Capistrano, G.G., Ries, D., Minoche, A., Kraft, T., Frerichmann , S.L.M., Holtgräwe , D., Rosleff-Soerensen , T., Varrelmann , M., Uphoff , H., Mechelke , W., Schechert , A.W., Himmelbauer, H., Weisshaar, B., Kopisch-Obuch, F. Fine Mapping of Rhizomania Resistance using in situ Populations of the Wild Beet Beta vulgaris ssp. maritima. Plant & Animal Genomes XXII Conference, January 10-15 2014, San Diego-CA, USA. Poster Presentation.

F.J. Kopisch-Obuch, S.L.M. Frerichmann and G. Capistrano-Goßmann (2013) Fine-mapping of rhizomania resistance using an in situ population of B. vulgaris subsp. Maritima. Report of a Working Group on Beta and the World Beta Network - Fourth Joint Meeting, 20-22 June 2012, Cappelle-en-Pévèle, France.

Friedrich Kopisch-Obuch and Gina Capistrano-Gossmann (2012). Fine mapping of the Rhizomania resistance gene Rz2 in Beta vulgaris ssp. maritima. "Breeding Crops for sustainable agricultural production" Symposium of GPZ e.V., Gießen, 28.2.-1-3.2012
Poster Presentation.


Kieler Nachrichten:


Uni Kiel:

Uni Bielefeld:

ECPGR Beta Working Group:  Capistrano, G.G., Frese, L., Innovative breeding research project underpins the value of genetic reserves.

Scientific Partner

David Ries, Dr. Daniela Holtgräwe, Thomas Rosleff Soerensen, Dr. Bernd Weisshaar, Cebitec Bielefeld
Dr. Mark Varrelmann, Institut für Zuckerrübenforschung, Göttingen
Dr. Heinz Himmelbauer, Centre for Genomic Regulation, Barcelona, Spain
Dr. Lothar Frese – JKI, Quedlinburg
Dr. Markus Schilhabel, Institute of Clinical Molecular Biology, Kiel University

Associated industry partners

Dr. Wolfgang Mechelke, KWS Saat AG
Dr. Hendrik Tschoep, SESVanderHave
Dr. Axel Schechert, Strube Research
Dr. Hubert Uphoff, Dr. Thomas Kraft, Syngenta Seeds GmbH

Funding (2011 - 2014)

Funding was provided by the German Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) grant FKZ 2814505310.

Updated: 30-01-2018          Responsible for this webpage: Dr. Gina Capistrano-Goßmann