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Despite being 10,000 km apart, the current study emphasizes the potential vulnerability of Australia to wind-borne Puccinia graminis f. sp. tritici (Pgt) spore introductions from southern Africa. Of four Pgt introductions into Australia since 1925, at least two (races 326-1,2,3,5,6 and 194-1,2,3,5,6) are thought to have originated from southern Africa. Microsatellite analysis of 29 Australian and South African Pgt races confirmed close genetic relationships between the majority of races in these two geographically separated populations, thus supporting previously reported phenotypic similarities. Using Lagrangian Particle Dispersion Model simulations with finely-resolved global meteorological data over a 14-year period and a three-day urediniospore survival time, the study showed that long distance dispersal of Pgt from southern Africa to Australia is possible, albeit rare. Transmission events occurred most frequently from central South Africa, but were also possible from southern South Africa and Zimbabwe; while none occurred from a representative source-location in Tanzania. Direct dispersal incursions into both the western and eastern Australian wheat belts were feasible. Together, the genetic and simulation data strongly support the hypothesis that earlier introductions of Pgt into Australia occurred through long-distance wind-dispersal across the Indian Ocean. The study thus acts as a warning of possible future Pgt dispersal events to Australia which could include members of the Ug99 race group. This emphasizes the continued need for Pgt surveillance on both continents.
Wheat is one of the most important staple food and agricultural crop cultivated worldwide. To meet the demands of the raising human population, global wheat production has to be increased which is however declined due to appearance of highly virulent strains of Puccinia striiformis f. sp. tritici (Pst) fungus causing stripe rust disease. Globally, the incidence of stripe rust is effectively managed through the deployment of host plant mediated genetic resistance. But as the resistance present in the current wheat cultivars are ineffective, new sources of resistance particularly from pathogen unexposed genetic resources are of urgent need to prevent stripe rust epidemics. Landrace collections with rich genetic diversity and being less exposed to prevalent pathogen are of valuable source for resistance to new pathogens. In this study, a total of 295 landrace accessions collected by the famous Russian botanist Vavilov was screened for stripe rust resistance using the two predominant lineage Pst strains of Australia. Six accessions with good resistance against the two aggressive Pst strains were selected for genetic characterization and for utilization in global wheat breeding. Characterisation of these novel resistance were undertaken using combination of conventional and advanced genetic tools. While the conventional approach involves the traditional map based gene cloning, the other tool is the recently identified rapid method based on mutagenesis, targeted gene capture and next generation sequencing called "MutRenSeq". Subsequently, the identified novel resistant traits were transferred into elite wheat cultivars through the combination of linked molecular markers and speed breeding techniques. Thus along with the identification of novel resistance, elite wheat cultivars with broad spectrum stripe rust resistance were also generated through the use state of art techniques to sustain global wheat production from the rapidly evolving stripe pathogens.