Virulence diversity of wheat stem rust (Puccinia graminis f.sp. tritici) in Ethiopia in 2016 main cropping season
Stem rust caused by Puccinia graminis f. sp. tritici (Pgt) is a major production constraint in most wheat growing areas of Ethiopia. The stem rust pathogen is capable of rapidly developing new virulence to resistance genes. The highlands of Ethiopia are considered a hot spot for Pgt diversity. The present study was conducted to investigate the virulence diversity and spatial distribution of races of Pgt in the major wheat growing areas of Ethiopia. The physiologic races of Pgt were determined on seedlings of the standard wheat stem rust differentials following the international system of nomenclature. Stem rust race analyses were carried out both at Ambo Plant Protection Center and the Cereal Disease Laboratory in Minnesota. 426 stem rust samples were collected from major wheat growing of the country in the 2016 cropping season and 185 viable samples were analyzed. Stem rust races TKTTF, TTKSK, TTTTF, JRCQC and RRTTF were identified. Among the identified races, TKTTTF was dominant at a frequency of 78.7% followed by TTKSK (10.6%). Race TTTTF was found for the first time in Ethiopia in 2016. Only one resistance gene in the differential set, Sr24, was effective against all isolates. Stem rust resistance gene Sr31 was found to confer resistance to most of the races prevalent in Ethiopia with the exception of Ug99. Sr24 could be used in combination with other resistance genes in breeding for resistance to stem rust in Ethiopia.