Epidemics of yellow and stem rust in Southern Italy 2016-2017

Mehran Patpour

Global Rust Reference Center (GRRC), Aarhus University, Denmark

Mogens Støvring Hovmøller, Jens Grønbech Hansen, Annemarie Fejer Justesen, Tine Thach, Julian Rodriguez-Algab, Dave Hodson, Biagio Randazzo


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In 2016, severe epidemics of yellow (stripe) rust were observed on durum and bread wheat in European regions where the diseases in the past were insignificant or absent. Stem rust was also observed at epidemic levels for the first time in more than 50 years in Europe. On Sicily, both yellow and stem rust caused epidemics on cultivated durum and bread wheat and numerous breeding lines. In 2017, surveys in farmer fields and trial monitoring were carried out in Southern Italy during April-June. A total of 61 farmer fields and 9 experimental plots were inspected and rust samples collected. Despite unfavourable weather conditions for rust development, stem rust, yellow rust and leaf rust were detected on 86%, 50% and 14% of the surveyed sites, respectively. The surveys on Sicily covered approximately 70% of the durum wheat area, and data uploaded and visualised on the Wheat Rust Toolbox. On mainland Italy and Sardinia, yellow rust was observed, and sampled from nine fields in Sardinia and two in Puglia, whereas stem rust was detected and sampled in experimental plots in Sicily, Sardinia, Puglia, Lazio and Emilia Romagna. A total of 94 samples of stem rust, 30 samples of yellow rust, and 3 rust samples from Berberis aetnensis were sent to GRRC. Preliminary results of yellow rust genotyping and race phenotyping showed prevalence of race Triticale2015. Warrior(-) and a new race (Pst'New'- First detected in 2016) were also detected. For stem rust, TTTTF and TTRTF were detected in Sicily and mainland Italy and TKTTF was identified in Sardinia. Susceptibility of major commercial durum cultivars and breeding lines suggests the need for both durable resistance breeding and systematic surveys coupled to an early warning system.