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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.
Leaf rust (caused by Puccinia triticina) continues to be the most important and widespread foliar disease of wheat in the Southern Cone. The P. triticina population of the region is extremely dynamic, leading to short-lived resistance in commercial cultivars. Some high yielding materials susceptible to leaf rust have been released and their increasing cultivation relies on fungicide applications to control leaf rust. The most important challenge of breeding programs in the Southern Cone is to incorporate durable leaf rust resistance in high yielding cultivars. These cultivars must also combine resistance to other relevant diseases and meet industrial quality standards demanded by the market. Leaf rust resistance in wheat varieties and lines lies mostly in combinations of seedling resistance genes or combinations of these with adult plant resistance (APR), including Lr34. Few recently released cultivars carry APR to leaf rust that might be expected to be durable. Since efforts to introduce slow rusting into high yielding adapted germplasm are increasing in most countries, more cultivars carrying this type of resistance will likely be released. If major genes are used, the introduction of effective genes not present in the regional germplasm will increase the diversity of resistance. Molecular markers are used in breeding in Argentina and are starting to be implemented in Brazil and Uruguay. Increased use of molecular tools could improve genetic progress in breeding programs, allow identification of APR genes present in current regional germplasm, and facilitate identification of new resistance genes.
Approximately nine million ha of wheat (Triticum aestivum and T. durum) were sown annually in the Southern Cone of South America (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay) during 2003-2007. Presently, leaf rust (caused by Puccinia triticina) is the most important rust of wheat throughout the region. The pathogen population is extremely dynamic leading to short-lived resistance in commercial cultivars. Leaf rust management relies on the use of resistant cultivars and fungicides. Sources of adult plant resistance conferred by minor additive genes have been increasingly used in breeding programs to obtain cultivars with more durable resistance. Stripe rust (P. striiformis f. sp. tritici) is endemic in central and southern Chile, where fungicides are required to control the disease on susceptible cultivars. Stem rust (P. graminis f. sp. tritici) has not caused widespread epidemics in the last 25 years due to the use of resistant cultivars. Virulence to Sr24 and Sr31, the most important genes conferring resistance to local races, has not been reported in the region. The areas sown with cultivars susceptible to local races in Argentina and Uruguay have increased in recent years. Since most varieties sown in the region are susceptible to Ug99 or derived races, testing and selection for resistance in Kenya, facilitated by the Borlaug Global Rust Initiative, is highly relevant for research aimed at preventing epidemics, which may occur if these races migrate, or are accidentally introduced to our region. The resistances identified in east Africa will also contribute to increasing the levels of resistance to current local races.