Surveying stem rust and barberry in South America
The discovery of Ug99 stem rust with virulence on most widely grown wheat cultivars worldwide triggered substantial new research on host resistance genes and associated virulence dynamics in the pathogen. Ug99 is mutating and migrating, with eight variants presently known, and has spread throughout eastern Africa, across the Red Sea to Yemen and Iran, and to South Africa. It has been speculated that further movement of Ug99 spores from South Africa to South America could happen on prevailing winds that occur about eight days per month on average. While Ug99 is not yet present in South America, this is a critical entry point into the Western Hemisphere as demonstrated by introduction of soybean rust to Paraguay in 2001. Thus, work was initiated to engage countries in South America to participate in monitoring for its occurrence. Stem rust surveys are currently conducted in Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay on a regular basis. Each country has a national agricultural institute with adequate to good capacity to perform pathotyping work, but have limitations due to inadequate greenhouse cooling. We will present the current virulence dynamics of Pgt in each country. In addition to surveys for rust, we searched for the presence of Berberis spp. in Brazil. Berberis laurina was abundantly distributed in the Rio Grande du Sul state near the city of Caçapava. Leaves sampled in October displayed low to moderate aecial infections. Determination of the pathogen species infecting B. laurina is currently being determined by physiologic and molecular methods.