WIT Award Year: 2019
Organization: Wheat Research Institute
Sabina Asghar, from Pakistan, completed her M.Sc. Hons. Agriculture with specialization in Plant Breeding and Genetics at the University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, and began working as assistant research officer at the Wheat Research Institute at Faisalabad in 2010. In 2013, she was honored with the highly prestigious Borlaug Fellowship Program at the University of Minnesota. For the last six years, Sabina has contributed to the development of high-yielding rust resistant wheat varieties and evaluated breeding material for leaf rust resistance as a continuation of her research during the Borlaug Fellowship Program under the supervision of Yue Jin. Her current research focus is wheat pathology and breeding for durable rust resistance, and understanding the complex interactions between wheat and rusts to devise breeding strategy for managing rusts through genetics. She has selected about 100 high-yielding rust resistant entries from CIMMYT nurseries for use in the national breeding program and worked on Harvest Plus Yield Trial (HPYT) with the objective to improve nutritional quality through biofortification. She also screened breeding material for identification of genotypes having durable types of rust resistance mechanisms. Her future pathology work will focus on starting race analysis for leaf rusts, which can then be used to select wheat varieties that are most resistant to these diseases. She hopes these modern breeding tools will be very useful in enhancing the resistance of wheat plants to rust races prevailing in Pakistan.