International surveillance of wheat rust pathogens - progress and challenges
Surveillance of wheat rust pathogens, including assessments of rust incidence and virulence characterization via either trap plots or race (pathotype) surveys, has provided information fundamental in formulating and adopting appropriate national and international policies, investments and strategies in plant protection, plant breeding, seed systems, and in rust pathogen research. Despite many successes from national and regional co-ordination of rust surveillance, few attempts were made to extend rust surveillance to international or even global levels. The Global Cereal Rust Monitoring System was established to address this deficiency. It is underpinned by an information platform that includes standardized protocols for methods and systems used in surveys, preliminary virulence testing, data, sample transmission and management at the field and national and global levels, and includes two web-based visualization tools. While considerable progress has been made towards a global system for monitoring variability in the wheat stem rust pathogen, and linking this to the threat posed by this pathogen to regional wheat production, some challenges remain, including ongoing commitment to support rust surveillance, and the ability to share and compare surveillance data.