Yellow rust caused by Puccinia striiformis West. is a harmful and dangerous disease in the south of Russia. Yield losses under optimum conditions on highly susceptible varieties can vary from 10 to 100%. During the growing season of 2017, cool weather with constant precipitation from the third decade of April to the first decade of June contributed to the intensive development of the pathogen. Surveys of the main winter wheat production areas in five agroclimatic zones of the region revealed that yellow rust was prevalent in all areas. The maximum development of P.striiformis was observed in southern submontane and western Priazovsky agroclimatic zones. Some varieties such as Grom, Yuka, Tanya, Anka had losses to yellow rust of up to 30-40 %. In the central and northern agroclimatic zones, the losses averaged 5%, whereas in the dry eastern steppe zone losses were only up to 1%. The build up of yellow rust inoculum in the region raises concerns that in 2018, under favorable weather conditions in spring, winter wheat crops could be infected with the disease, especially in the wetter agroclimatic zones.
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Hexaploid synthetics have become widely used in bread wheat improvement in recent years, enabling the introduction of specific traits as well as enhancing genetic diversity and development of valuable germplasm. This study demonstrated the difference between two groups of primary synthetics in terms of development rate, plant height, rust reactions, and productivity components. During 2015 and 2016, three groups of synthetics were studied in Azerbaijan (3 sites): Baku (0 masl) under irrigated conditions, Gobustan (850 masl) under dry rainfed conditions and Ujar (20 masl) under irrigated conditions with high salinity. Germplasm was also evaluated for diseases and agronomic traits in Omsk (Russia) in 2016.
All primary synthetics were resistant to leaf rust, several to stem rust, and few to stripe rust. Stripe rust occurred in all years at all sites, proving its importance as major wheat pathogen. Its severity reached intermediate levels in Baku in 2016 (33.7%) and in Gobustan in 2015 (26.8%), and epidemic level in Gobustan in 2016 (72.7%). Gobustan also experienced high levels of stem rust in 2016. These two diseases substantially reduced grain productivity in Gobustan in 2016, especially 1000 kernel weight (30.2 g) and grain weight per spike (1.17 g). . Superior genotypes from all three groups were identified that combine high expression of spike productivity traits and stress tolerance index. Five superior synthetics were selected from each of the three groups, based on grain weight per spike. Only four of these demonstrated resistance to stripe rust (entries 13, 15, 31, and 32). Japanese synthetics (group 3) were susceptible to stripe rust but all demonstrated resistance to stem rust. Synthetics from groups 1 and 3 were all resistant to leaf rust when tested under severe disease pressure in Omsk in 2016.
Leaf rust represents the major threat to wheat production in Russia and Ukraine. It has been present for many years and epidemics occur in different regions on both winter and spring wheat. In some regions there is evidence of more frequent epidemics, probably due to higher precipitation as a result of climate change. There is evidence that the virulence of the leaf rust population in Ukraine and European Russia and on winter wheat and spring wheat is similar. The pathogen population structure in Western Siberia is also similar to the European part, although there are some significant differences based on the genes employed in different regions. Ukrainian wheat breeders mostly rely on major resistance genes from wide crosses and have succeeded in developing resistant varieties. The North Caucasus winter wheat breeding programs apply the strategy of deploying varieties with different types of resistance and genes. This approach resulted in decreased leaf rust incidence in the region. Genes Lr23 and Lr19 deployed in spring wheat in the Volga region were rapidly overcome by the pathogen. There are continuing efforts to incorporate resistance from wild species. The first leaf rust resistant spring wheat varieties released in Western Siberia possessed gene LrTR which protected the crop for 10-15 years, but was eventually broken in 2007. Slow rusting is being utilized in several breeding programs in Russia and Ukraine, but has not become a major strategy.