The common barberry and several other Berberis spp. serve as the alternate hosts to two important rust pathogens of small grains and grasses, Puccinia graminis and P. striiformis. Barberry eradication has been practiced for centuries as a means to control stem rust. Diverse virulence variations have been observed in populations of P. graminis f. sp. tritici that were associated with susceptible barberries in North America. Barberry likely has played a role in generating new races of P. striiformis f. sp. tritici in some regions in the world. Several North American stem rust races, namely races 56, 15B and QCC, initially originated from barberry, were subsequently responsible for generating large-scale epidemics. Thus, sexual cycles on Berberis spp. may generate virulence combinations that could have serious consequences to cereal crop production.
Role of Berberis spp. as alternate hosts in generating new races of Puccinia graminis and P. striiformis
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