Stem rust (SR) resistance is required for CIMMYT durum germplasm to keep relevance in Ethiopia, where Ug99 and other Pgt races are a major yield-limiting constraint, and in countries along the possible dissemination paths of these races. Resistance to Ug99 is widespread in most durum germplasm groups when tested in Kenya, but resistance is lost when exposed to Ethiopian races; hence selection at the Debre Zeit site in Ethiopia is essential for durum wheat. Due to difficulties with shuttling segregating populations between Mexico and Ethiopia, we have adopted a strategy involving the identification of resistant/moderately resistant lines at Debre- Zeit, and inter-crossing in Mexico followed by selection for resistance to leaf rust and agronomic type and finally screening for SR reaction in the resulting F6 lines at Debre-Zeit at the same time as they are tested for yield and quality in preliminary yield trials in Mexico. This has generated a significant increase in the proportion of resistant and moderately resistant genotypes within outgoing CIMMYT germplasm, from less than 3% at the onset of the initiative in 2008 to 16% in 2011, and 38% in 2013. SR-resistant germplasm was characterized by similar frequency distributions to other traits in the overall germplasm such as yield potential, drought tolerance and industrial quality parameters. Advances have also been realized using marker-assisted selection (MAS) to introgress Sr22 from bread wheat and to combine it with Sr25, producing advanced lines with 2-gene stacks with confirmed outstanding resistance and superior quality attributes. Since the two genes are closely linked but from different sources bringing them together required a very rare recombination event finally detected via MAS among thousands of plants. They are now essentially inherited together with a very low likelihood of generating recombinant individuals with either gene. The yield potential and stability of these lines are under evaluation in Ethiopia and the best lines are being used in a second round of breeding.
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The number of designated stem rust resistance genes has increased by ~10 over the past four years. Translocations involving several broadly-effective alien resistance genes with limited or no previous agricultural deployment were enginneered to reduce the likelihood of linkage drag, and the foundations of adult plant resistance were established. This progress resulted from international collaboration, increased global coordination, and critical financial support. By buidling on these initial accomplishments and improving genetic and genomic resources over the next four years we expect to achieve: 1. more than 10 additional formally designated stem rust resistance genes conferring resistance to Ug99-complex races, 2. robust/diagnostic DNA marker haplotypes identified for most sources of resistance, 3. multiple linkage blocks of two or more resistance genes to enhance gene pyramiding efforts, and 4. knowledge of numerous additional sources of resistance complelely or partially identified. Never before have so many resources and supporting tools been available to combat the wheat rusts. It is an opportune time for the international community to strategically deploy and responsibly steward our genetic resources for durable control of wheat stem rust.
Variants of Puccinia triticina race BBG/BN, separately overcoming three resistance genes, were identified from durum wheat (Triticum turgidum ssp. durum) fields in northwestern Mexico since its introduction in 2001. Major genes available for use in breeding programs are limited and an alternative strategy is required. Previous studies indicated that slow rusting resistance in eight CIMMYT durums was determined by 2 to 3 minor genes with additive effects. Twenty-eight 4-way crosses were made between these lines with the aim of developing new germplasm with enhanced levels of resistance through pyramiding diverse minor genes. Plants in F1 (4-way) through F3 generations were selected for slow rusting under high leaf rust pressure at the Cd. Obregon and El Batan field sites in Mexico and spikes from selected plants were harvested as bulks. Plants in the F4 generation were individually harvested and1,843 advanced lines obtained, among which 106 lines with enhanced resistance, and desirable agronomic and grain characteristics were selected for non-replicated yield and leaf rust evaluation trials at Obregon during the 2007-2008 season. The best 19 lines, exhibiting near-immunity but with the presence of a few susceptible type pustules, parents and susceptible checks were evaluated for leaf rust resistance under very high disease pressure in replicated trials sown on two dates (16 May and 6 June) at El Batan during 2008. Spreader rows of susceptible cultivar ‘Banamichi C2004’, sown as border and as hills on one side of each plot, were inoculated with P. triticina race BBG/BP. Leaf rust severities, and host responses to infection were determined from weekly readings, and area under the disease progress curves (AUDPC) were calculated. Several lines were identified with significantly lower final leaf rust severity responses and AUDPC values than the most resistant parent in each cross. Our results show that enhanced levels of slow rusting can be generated by pyramiding diverse genes present in different parents. The trial is being repeated during the 2008-2009 season at Obregon to validate the results. In addition these lines are being used for transferring slow rusting resistance into high yielding, superior quality adapted backgrounds using the single-backcross approach.