Development of wheat lines with complex resistance to rusts and Fusarium head blight

Wheat is an economically important food crop in South Africa and production is influenced by a number of diseases caused by fungal pathogens, especially leaf rust, stem rust, stripe rust and Fusarium head blight. The aim of the study is to combine durable rust and FHB resistances into a single wheat line with a high percentage of cv. Krokodil genetic background. Two sets of wheat lines respectively resistant to the three rusts or FHB were developed from different breeding programs at the University of the Free State. These lines were used as parents to combine durable rust and FHB resistance genes/QTL into a single line. Three of the best rust resistant lines were selected as female parents containing rust resistance genes/QTL Lr19, Lr34/Yr18/Sr57, Sr2, Sr26, Sr39 and QYr.sgi-2B.1. FHB resistant BC2F2 and BC2F6 lines were selected as male parents; these lines contained different combinations of Fhb1, Qfhs.ifa-5A-1 and Qfhs.ifa-5A-2. All parental lines were evaluated using molecular markers to confirm the presence of the expected genes/QTL. More than 100 crosses were made between the rust and FHB resistant parents. Since the parents were not homozygous for all markers, leaf material from six-week-old F1 seedlings was collected for marker-assisted selection and to identify the best plants with combined rust and FHB resistances. The best selected lines will be use to develop a backcross population using cv. Krokodil as the recurrent parent. Lines with different combinations of resistance genes/QTL are currently being evaluated in the field to confirm the presence of these genes/QTL.

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Department of Plant Sciences, University of the Free State, South Africa
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