Large scale wheat stem rust outbreaks in Western Siberia / Northern Kazakhstan in 2015-2017
Short season, high latitude spring wheat is grown on 7 million ha in Western Siberia and 10 million ha in Northern Kazakhstan. Despite relatively low wheat yields (1.5 t/ha), the region is extremely important for regional and global food security. Leaf rust dominates, occurring three years out of five, especially in favorable years with higher rainfall. Since 2010, stem rust has been observed at an increasing number of sites. The first large-scale stem rust outbreak occurred in 2015 and affected about 0.5-1 million ha in Omsk, Western Siberia. In 2016, 2 million ha were affected in the Omsk and Altay regions, while 1 million ha in the Kostanay and Northern Kazakhstan regions were affected in 2017. Estimated yield losses reached 25-35% each year. Factors associated with the outbreaks included: higher rainfall in late June and July; cultivation of susceptible varieties; and an increased area planted to winter wheat, which serves as a source of inoculum. Sampling and race analysis revealed a diverse pathogen population, indicative of a sexual recombination. A total of 51 races were identified from 31 samples taken in 2015 and 2016. All races were avirulent on Sr31. The majority of varieties released and cultivated in the region are susceptible to stem rust and require replacing. A recent study of 150 local resistant varieties and breeding lines indicated that the genetic basis of resistance was limited to Sr25, Sr31, Sr36, Sr6Ai, Sr6Ai#2, and additional unknown major genes. Adult-plant resistance to stem rust was observed in less than 20% of the germplasm. The potential impact of these large stem rust outbreaks on other wheat growing regions is being investigated by analyzing spore wind dispersal patterns. Further research is required to understand and mitigate the sudden appearance of stem rust as a disease of economic importance.
Study at Omsk State Agrarian University was supported by the Russian Science Foundation (project No. 16-16-10005).