Isolation of durable wheat stem rust resistance gene Sr26 and enhancement of its deployment
Multiple rust resistance gene combinations are considered as a practical solution for providing durable rust resistance and preventing resistance breakdown arising from single gene deployment. The stem rust resistance locus Sr26, originally derived from Thinopyrum ponticum and introgressed into wheat as a chromosome translocation, is one of the very few genes conferring durable resistance for almost 40 years to all known races of stem rust, including the highly virulent stem rust race Ug99 (TTKSK) and its derivatives (Dundas et al. 2015). To understand the underlying mechanisms of its unusual long-term effectiveness and to explore allelic diversity in different Th. ponticum accessions for other functional alleles that may offer new sources of resistance, we used comparative genomics and gene capture techniques (Resistance gene enrichment sequencing, RenSeq) as complementary strategies for isolating the target gene (Steuernage et al. 2016). Sr26 region was first mapped using NB-LRR (Nucleotide-binding site and leucine-rich repeat) sequences from the orthologous gene members located on the long arm of chromosome 6D from Aegilops tauschii (the D-genome donor of wheat) reference genome. Subsequently, we revealed a cluster of NB-LRR sequences located at the distal end of the Th. ponticum introgression segment that were absent in the smallest interstitial Sr26 deletion mutant. Therefore, we substantially narrowed down the genetic interval for Sr26. In addition to this approach, we subjected the mutant population to RenSeq pipeline. A candidate gene of Sr26 has been successfully identified to be a NBS-LRR type resistance gene. Validation of the gene candidate by complementation studies is currently in progress. In order to enhance durable resistance, genetic stocks of Sr26 from different backgrounds as well as a panel of Sr26-APR (Adult Plant Resistance) gene combinations have been generated to further investigate the resistance response of Sr26 in combination with different multi-pathogen APR genes.