Stripe rust virulence in western Canada

Harpinder Randhawa


Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Lethbridge, Alberta

Gurcharn Brar, Randy Kutcher, Raman Dhariwal



Stripe rust of wheat, caused by Puccinia striiformis f. sp. tritici (Pst), is one of the most important diseases of wheat in western Canada. Although stripe rust was an issue in southern Alberta for many years, it became important in other parts of the country after a dramatic population shift in 2000, resulting from an invasive race. Sporadic epidemics of the disease are common and cause considerable loss, due to which, an intermediate level of resistance to stripe rust was required for new varietal registrations beginning 2017. Virulence surveys are of key importance in germplasm and cultivar development as they provide breeders and pathologists the information needed to better understand host-pathogen interactions and the effectiveness of Yr genes. Virulence characterization revealed a wide range of virulence phenotypes exhibited by 33 Pst races in western Canada, although only 2-3 races were predominant. The expression of Yr genes may differ between controlled conditions and natural field conditions as previously reported. Thus, stripe rust differentials and wheat cultivars grown in western Canada are also screened at multiple locations in every year. At present, all stage resistance genes Yr1, Yr4, Yr5, Yr15, Yr76, and YrSP are effective against the predominant Pst races, whereas at the adult stage under field conditions, Yr2, Yr17, Yr28, or those carried by Yamhill are also effective. Seedling resistance genes Yr7, Yr10, Yr17, or Yr27 were the most common in Canadian wheat cultivars. Of these, only Yr17 is effective under field conditions. Adult plant resistance genes Yr18 and Yr29 are carried by many cultivars, but are not effective under high disease pressure. The effectiveness of each resistance gene may vary between the eastern and western prairies of western Canada due to differences in virulence. Regular virulence surveys using contemporary and regional cultivars facilitate the development of rust resistant cultivars.