Breeding for durable leaf rust resistance is a priority for our breeding programs; however, the availability of new resistance genes is a limiting factor. Two spring wheat populations totaling 186 lines derived from three resistant donors and two Uruguayan susceptible cultivars were used to detect genomic regions associated with seedling and field resistance to LR in Uruguay. AUDPC were recorded in three environments in the 2012 and 2013 cropping seasons, and seedling responses were determined using three Puccinia triticina races. The lines were also genotyped using GBS. A total of 5,222 SNP markers were used for genome-wide association analysis. Molecular markers were used to genotype APR genes Lr34 and Lr68. We identified 43 SNP markers significantly associated with seedling resistance and 19 for field resistance on chromosomes 1A, 1B, 1D, 2B, 2D, 3A, 4A, 5B, 6B, 7A, 7B and 7D. We confirmed the presence of Lr10 and Lr16 in seedling tests and Lr34 and Lr68 in field tests. Novel genomic regions were identified on chromosomes 4A associated with APR, and 5B associated with seedling resistance. These new resistance genes will be useful in breeding for durable LR resistance.
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Argentina and Uruguay are neighboring countries located in the same rust epidemiological area. The last significant stem rust epidemic occurred in 1950. Since then, stem rust was frequently observed in experimental fields and off-season nurseries, but was mostly absent in commercial fields. During 2014, 4.6 million ha of wheat were grown, and there was a widespread incidence of stem rust, reaching levels of 80S on susceptible cultivars in both countries. Yield losses of 13 to 21% were estimated in experimental trials in Argentina. The epidemic was probably caused by the increasingly widespread cultivation of highly susceptible, but high yielding French cultivars during the last decade. In Argentina 42.3% of the commercial cultivars were susceptible to stem rust, and in Uruguay 23.0% were susceptible, 6.8% moderately susceptible and 20.3% were intermediate in reaction. However, the actual area sown to susceptible cultivars in Uruguay has continued to increase, from 22% of the wheat area in 2009 to 53.3% in 2014. Conductive weather conditions of high rainfall and warmer than average temperatures during the winter and spring, favored early infection. Cultivars with resistance genes Sr31 and Sr24 continue to be resistant in the region and are believed to be the most important genes currently providing resistance. Some Argentinean and Uruguayan cultivars that do not carry Sr31 and/or Sr24 were susceptible in 2011, but resistant in 2014, indicating a narrower range of virulence in 2014 compared to 2011. Both countries are working to improve resistance to local races and to the Ug99 race group. Disease modeling would be useful for understanding and predicting the occurrence and severity of this disease.