Race nomenclature systems: Can we speak the same language?

Tom Fetch


AAFC, Canada

Y. Jin, K. Nazari, R. Park, M. Prashar, and Z. Pretorius



The first system describing physiologic specialization in the cereal rust fungi was that by Stakman and Levine (1922) for the wheat stem rust pathogen. Thirty seven biologic forms or “races” were identified using 12 differential wheat lines. Since then, additional variability in physiologic specialization was found and several systems evolved to describe this variation using numbers, letters, or combinations of both. This led to difficulties in comparing races, most often because of differences in the system that is used and the differential lines employed. A system that describes virulence succinctly and allows easilymade comparisons between races is highly desirable. Additionally, differential lines should be monogenic or near-isogenic so that virulence is classified on a genetic basis. Wherever near-isogenic stocks are used, it is vital that the recurrent parent is included. The systems that appear to be best suited to describing virulence with the above parameters are the letter-code and octal nomenclature. Of these, the letter-code system is the most commonly used based on a survey of research scientists working on stem rust. Thus, the letter-code system that uses 20 differential host lines is proposed to describe the nomenclature of Puccinia graminis f. sp. tritici on a worldwide basis. In addition, the source seedstock line for each differential gene is provided.