NOW ONLINE! “The Art & Science of Rust Pathology & Applied Plant Breeding”

Linda McCandless
Monday, January 30, 2017

ITHACA, NY: The BGRI is ringing in the new year by unveiling a whole new set of wheat resources and tools on the website. “The Art and Science of Rust Pathology and Applied Plant Breeding” features videos and presentations by the world's foremost wheat breeders and pathologists.

Designed for early- and mid-career wheat researchers, this online course covers such topics as understanding plant diseases and their management, host-pathogen interactions, race typing, chemical interventions, practical exercises in infection type scoring and pathotype identification, field survey protocols, wheat disease monitoring and trap nursery management, practical insights into the science of wheat breeding, how to handle rust collections in the lab and greenhouse, and more. 

“Wheat pathology and breeding training courses for the BGRI are held in South Asia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Mexico,” said Maricelis Acevedo, associate director for science for the Delivering Genetic Gain in Wheat (DGGW) project. “These new online resources should be considered a resource for attendees of these courses and a refresher for the entire wheat community.”

The course is based on the SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) course held in Kathmandu, Nepal, in 2015. It is the culmination of five years of lectures and presentations conceived and delivered by Robert Park, Zak Pretorius, Gordon Cisar, and Dave Hodson.

The SAARC course is organized by Sathguru Management Consultants in Hyderabad, India, with funding from the Durable Rust Resistance in Wheat project. The 2015 course was videotaped and edited by Chris Knight and organized in Canvas by John Bakum.

World-renowned faculty

The faculty for the course includes some of the BGRI’s most foremost scientists.

Professor Robert Park, a leading rust pathologist, directs the Australian Cereal Rust Control Program, and is an expert on how fungal rust pathogens evolve and acquire virulence for resistance genes in their hosts.

Professor Zak Pretorius, respected pathologist with the University of the Free State in South Africa, was one of the first to characterize Ug99, working with William Wagoire in Uganda.

Dr. David Hodson, CIMMYT senior scientist, leads global surveillance and prediction-modeling efforts to monitor fungal rusts with the goal curtailing their spread.

Dr. Gordon Cisar, senior project manager for the DRRW project, is a former hybrid wheat breeder with years of experience developing winter wheat varieties for the U.S., and triticale cultivars for the Central Plains of the U.S.

Other faculty who have delivered guest lectures and helped with the SAARC course practicums in the past include Sarala Sharma, Arun Joshi, S.C. Bhardwaj, Mohinder Prashar, Dhruba Thapa, Indu Sharma, and others.

How to use course resources

The course is currently in Canvas. Students can take it in its entirety, or access only the presentations in which they are most interested. The course also includes a set of quizzes so students can monitor their progress. As well, there are links to supporting materials of papers and presentations chosen by the faculty.

In addition to the Canvas site, the BGRI will make these resources available on a new sub-domain website that will be devoted to all the training resources that the BGRI has invested in over the years with the Durable Rust Resistance in Wheat (DRRW) project, and now the Delivering Genetic Gain in Wheat (DGGW) project.

Please share these resources with your colleagues and students and promote them in your newsletters.

This year’s SAARC course will be held in Kathmandu from 22 Feb-3 March 2017, with attendees from India, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

We welcome your feedback.