The Puccinia graminis f. sp. tritici (Pgt) Ug99 race group is virulent to most stem rust resistance genes currently deployed in wheat and poses a threat to global wheat production. The durum wheat (Triticum turgidum ssp. durum) gene Sr13 confers resistance to Ug99 and other virulent races, and is more effective at high temperatures. Using map-based cloning, we delimited a candidate region including two linked genes encoding coiled-coil nucleotide-binding leucine-rich repeat proteins designated CNL3 and CNL13. Three independent truncation mutations identified in each of these genes demonstrated that only CNL13 was required for Ug99 resistance. Transformation of an 8-kb genomic sequence including CNL13 into the susceptible wheat variety Fielder was sufficient to confer resistance to Ug99, confirming that CNL13 is Sr13. CNL13 transcripts were slightly down-regulated 2–6 days after Pgt inoculation and were not affected by temperature. By contrast, six pathogenesis-related (PR) genes were up-regulated at high temperatures only when both Sr13 and Pgt were present, suggesting that they may contribute to the high temperature resistance mechanism. We identified three Sr13-resistant haplotypes, which were present in one-third of cultivated emmer and durum wheats but absent in most tested common wheats (Triticum aestivum). These results suggest that Sr13 can be used to improve Ug99 resistance in a large proportion of modern wheat cultivars. To accelerate its deployment, we developed a diagnostic marker for Sr13. The identification of Sr13 expands the number of Pgt-resistance genes that can be incorporated into multigene transgenic cassettes to control this devastating disease.
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In recent years, severe wheat stem rust epidemics hit Ethiopia, sub-Saharan Africa’s largest wheat-producing country. These were caused by race TKTTF (Digalu race) of the pathogen Puccinia graminis f. sp. tritici, which, in Ethiopia, was first detected at the beginning of August 2012. We use the incursion of this new pathogen race as a case study to determine likely airborne origins of fungal spores on regional and continental scales by means of a Lagrangian particle dispersion model (LPDM). Two different techniques, LPDM simulations forward and backward in time, are compared. The effects of release altitudes in time-backward simulations and P. graminis f. sp. tritici urediniospore viability functions in time-forward simulations are analyzed. Results suggest Yemen as the most likely origin but, also, point to other possible sources in the Middle East and the East African Rift Valley. This is plausible in light of available field surveys and phylogenetic data on TKTTF isolates from Ethiopia and other countries. Independent of the case involving TKTTF, we assess long-term dispersal trends (>10 years) to obtain quantitative estimates of the risk of exotic P. graminis f. sp. tritici spore transport (of any race) into Ethiopia for different ‘what-if’ scenarios of disease outbreaks in potential source countries in different months of the wheat season.