Based on historical data, Australia and New Zealand (NZ) form a single epidemiological unit for cereal rusts. The dominant westerly wind pattern produces a one-way pathway of pathogen movement from Australia to NZ. Until 2002, pathotype analysis of cereal rust pathogens for NZ was conducted at the University of Sydney, Plant Breeding Institute. Over that time, windborne dispersal of members of the Pst 104 pathotype lineage to New Zealand was confirmed. Historically, pathotypes of Pst introduced to New Zealand have taken different evolutionary pathways to their Australian relatives, including a higher diversity of step-wise mutant isolates, often with different virulence profiles. A preliminary screen of Pst in NZ was conducted in January 2013 and a broader survey was conducted in 2014. Initial results confirmed that the Australian pathotype (pt.) 134 E16 A+ YrJ+ had crossed to NZ. The designation “YrJ+” was allocated to indicate virulence for an unidentified, probably rye-derived, resistance gene in the Australian triticale cultivar ‘Jackie’. The divergent evolution of this pathotype in NZ relative to Australia is of interest. In NZ, this pathotype subsequently acquired virulence for Yr10 to produce pt. 150 E16 A+ YrJ+. In Australia, Yr10 virulence had previously evolved in pt. 134 E16 A+, the progenitor of pt. 134 E16 A+ YrJ+. Only two mutational derivative pathotypes have evolved from pt. 134 E16 A+ YrJ+ in Australia. The first acquired virulence for an adult plant resistance gene in another triticale variety, ‘Tobruk’, and the second acquired virulence for Yr27. Despite being present in both Australia and NZ, pt. 134 E16 A+ Yr17+ has dominated the Australian Pst population whereas in NZ the predominant pathotype appears to be 134 E16 A+ YrJ+. Since the rust resistance genotypes of NZ varieties are poorly characterised, no conclusions can yet be reached as to whether this difference in dominant pathotype is due to selection or chance.
Primary Author: Cuddy, New South Wales Department of Primary Industries, Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute, Australia
In response to the threat posed by Ug99 (race TTKSK) and a global expert panel assessment, the Borlaug Global Rust Initiative (BGRI) was formed in 2005. This represented one of the most comprehensive global programs to address an emerging crop pathogen threat. For the last decade, surveillance and monitoring has been a key component of the BGRI. Progress in rust surveillance and monitoring over the last ten years is critically reviewed, with a focus on stem rust. The transition from a data poor environment regarding stem rust to a fully functional, comprehensive crop pathogen surveillance system is a notable success. Key components and status of the current system are described, including; the surveillance network, the data management and information platforms, and pathogen tracking. The application of the existing surveillance and monitoring system and the current status of important stem rust races are described. The role that new technologies are playing in the monitoring and tracking of stem rust is highlighted. Recent stem rust epidemics in East Africa provide stark warning of threat that the disease poses and the clear need to continuously monitor evolving stem rust populations. Shortcomings of the existing system are examined and future directions for the surveillance and monitoring system are outlined.
The model plant Arabidopsis thaliana has provided unique opportunities to explore and unravel many key biological features of plant biology including disease resistance. However, the inability of rust fungi of the genus Puccinia to infect Arabidopsis has prevented its use in exploring grass-rust interactions. The model plant Brachypodium distachyon is a member of the same grass subfamily as the principal cool-season grain crops, and can be infected with various Puccinia species. We have focused our efforts on establishing Brachypodium as a model for exploring grass - Puccinia graminis interactions. Brachypodium can be successfully infected by different formae speciales of the stem rust pathogen, including P. graminis f. sp. tritici. A wide range of response to stem rust occurs in Brachypodium and efforts are underway to decipher the genetic basis for this variation using recombinant inbred populations from parents with differing levels of response. Similarly, induced mutants with compromised stem rust resistance have been identified and are now being employed within a program to understand the molecular biology of stem rust resistance and susceptibility. Our results to date suggest that Brachypodium holds promise as a model plant for advancing our understanding of stem rust resistance.
Primary Author: David Garvin, USDA-ARS Plant Science Research Unit and Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics, University of Minnesota, USA
Detection of stem rust race TTKSK (Ug99) from Uganda in 1998/99 highlighted not only the extremely high vulnerability of the global wheat crop to stem rust but also a lack of adequate global systems to monitor such a threat. Progress in the development and expansion of the Global Cereal Rust Monitoring System (GCRMS) is described. The current situation regarding the Ug99 lineage of races is outlined and the potential for expansion into important wheat areas is considered. The GCRMS has successfully tracked the spread and changes that are occurring within the Ug99 lineage and is now well positioned to detect and monitor future changes. The distribution of Ug99 variants possessing combined virulence to Sr31 and Sr24 is expanding rapidly and future spread outside of Africa is highly likely. Efficient and effective data management is now being achieved via the Wheat Rust Toolbox platform, with an expanding range of dynamic information products being delivered to endusers. Application of new technologies may increase the efficiency of the GCRMS, with mobile devices, molecular diagnostics and remote sensing all seen to have potential application in the medium to longterm. Expansion of the global capacity for race analysis is seen to be critical and integration of the Global Rust Reference Centre into the stem rust monitoring network is seen as a positive development. The current acute situation with severe epidemics of stripe rust in many countries indicates a clear need for more effective global monitoring systems and early warning for this pathogen. The existing GCRMS for stem rust is seen as a good foundation for this to occur.
Cereal rusts have long been the scourge of wheat farmers worldwide. Three fungal rusts are capable of inflicting serious economic damage to wheat; namely, leaf rust, stripe rust, and stem rust. Historically, stem rust was the most feared disease of wheat, but since the 1950s, effective resistance has protected crops and livelihoods. By the mid 1990s stem rust had been reduced to negligible levels worldwide. The detection of the Ug99 lineage of stem rust in Uganda in 1998 has challenged the assumption that stem rust was a conquered disease, and up to 80% of the world’s wheat is now considered stem rust susceptible. Ug99 has sparked a global effort by wheat scientists to counter the threat and has highlighted the need for effective surveillance and monitoring systems. Outside of a few developed countries, monitoring efforts are often irregular or even non-existent and no coordinated global surveillance effort currently exists. Ug99 has provided the impetus to implement a global surveillance and monitoring system that provides relevant and timely information as a global public good. Key components, current status and future plans for this emerging cereal rust monitoring system are described. The immediate concern regarding Ug99 makes it an initial priority focus, but the other cereal rusts cannot nor should be excluded. Lessons can be learned and parallels drawn from existing successful trans-boundary monitoring schemes such as the Desert Locust monitoring and early warning system implemented by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Successful networking, expanded capacity of partners, efficient field surveys and data handling, plus regular timely targeted information products are all components of the Desert Locust scheme that need to be transferred to a cereal rust monitoring system. Through a consortium of partners several advances have already been made targeting the Ug99 lineage of stem rust. GIS technology is forming the backbone of an emerging rust monitoring and surveillance system being developed collaboratively by international agricultural research centers, UN agencies and advanced research institutes. The system already incorporates a rapidly expanding volume of standardized geo-referenced field survey data, routine use of wind models and public domain web tools delivering information in near-real time. Several challenges still remain before a fully operational system is created, and these are outlined. The need for vigilance and a lack of complacency regarding unexpected events are highlighted. These might include; accidental assisted movements, natural long distance dispersal and the threat of rust pathogens occurring in “non-traditional” areas as a result of climate change.
The East Africa program of the Borlaug Global Rust Initiative (BGRI) was launched to reduce the scale and scope of wheat stem rust epidemics in Kenya and Ethiopia, and to mitigate the global threat of virulent and dangerous rust races originating from this region. Since the launch in 2005, the screening facilities in Kenya and Ethiopia have helped to determine the extent of the world’s vulnerability to stem rust race Ug99 and its variants, identify diverse sources of resistance including adult plant resistance based on minor genes, and catalyze a comprehensive global response, leading to expanded awareness, expanded research and breeding activities, and resource mobilization. This paper reviews the role and achievements of the eastern African screening facilities along with the opportunities and challenges faced by the facilities during the ongoing global response to the emergence of Ug99 and its variants.
Primary Author: Davinder Singh, The University of Sydney, Plant Breeding Institute, Australia
Intensive breeding and replacement of traditional landraces by modern cultivars led to the narrowing of genetic variation in cultivated wheat. The most sustainable method for wheat improvement is utilization of genetic diversity from wheat wild relatives such as Aegilops speltoides that has a diversity of genes for resistance to leaf rust (LR). A high pairing-inducing Ae. speltoides strain collected from Israel was introgressed into T. turgidum subsp. durum var. landrace Nursi. The F1 plants were treated with colchicine to induce chromosome doubling. The resulting hexaploid plants were crossed to bread wheat cv. Beit-Lehem and F3 plants were backcrossed three times to bread wheat cv. Barnir. Each generation was selected for LR resistance to P. triticina isolate #1010 and five resistant wheat-Ae. speltoides introgression lines (ILs) designated DK1 to DK5 were selected. These Ae. speltoides ILs were genotyped using the 90K Infinium SNP assay and most of the polymorphic markers were mapped to chromosome 1B suggesting that the Ae. speltoides introgressions encompass most of this chromosome. To test if the newly identified gene is identical to Lr51, that was also introgressed from Ae. speltoides to chromosome 1B of bread wheat, the DK ILs were genotyped with the molecular marker AGA7 that was shown to be linked to Lr51. The Ae. speltoides AGA7 allele was absent in the DK ILs suggesting that these genotypes are not carrying the Lr51 introgression. Moreover, we performed an allelism test. Spring wheat cv. Kern harboring resistance gene Lr51 was crossed with DK2 and an F2 segregation ratio of 15R:1S was obtained, indicating that the resistance was conditioned by two independent dominant genes. Overall, our results suggest that DK2 carries a new leaf rust resistance gene from Ae. speltoides and this gene has potential for wheat improvement.
Stem rust caused by Puccinia graminis f.sp. tritici is one of the major biotic constraints of wheat production. The disease may cause substantial quantitative and qualitative yield losses. However, much of the work in Ethiopia on this pathosystem focuses on quantitative yield loss and qualitative losses are often overlooked. Hence the current research was designed with the objectives to evaluate the effect of stem rust on physical and chemical quality of durum wheat and assess the relationships between disease intensity and quality parameters. For this purpose, a factorial field experiment was conducted at Debre Zeit Agricultural Research Centre during main and off seasons of 2016/17. The experiment involved six durum wheat varieties (Denbi, Hitosa, Tob.66, Mukiye, Ude and Mengudo) with different level of resistance to stem rust, and three Tilt spray schedules of Tilt?250 E.C at 7, 14 and 21 days. The experiment was laid out in randomized complete block design in factorial arrangements with three replications and untreated checks were included for comparison purpose. Results revealed significant variations in disease parameters and crop performance among spray schedules, wheat varieties and their interactions. Stem rust severity was the lowest on moderately susceptible and susceptible varieties treated with the Tilt at 7th day schedule. The highest stem rust severity (46.67%) was recorded on variety Hitosa without Tilt spray. Without Tilt treatment Denbi variety accounts protein content of 15.67% which is a false protein. At 7th day spray schedule this variety showed 12.90 % of grain protein content which is normal. There was a significant positive correlation between grain protein and stem rust severity (0.31**). There was significant negative relationships between terminal stem rust severity and thousand kernel weight, hectolitre weight, seed size and yield during off and main seasons were resulted, respectively.
Primary Author: Degete, Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research, Debre Zeit Research Centre
Information about changes associated with advances in crop breeding is essential for understanding yield-limiting factors and developing new strategies for future breeding programmes. Thirty-six durum wheat varieties released since 1966 were evaluated in three replications of the Randomized Complete Design at Debre Zeit and Akaki, Ethiopia during the 2016 cropping season to estimate the amount of genetic gain made over time in grain yield potential, yield-associated traits and in protein content. Analysis of variance revealed significant differences among varieties for all 16 quantitative traits, protein content and protein harvest in Kg ha-1 at each of the locations. Grain yield varied between 1.66t ha-1 for Arendato released in 1966 to 3.90t ha-1 for Megenagna released in 2012 with mean of 2.952t ha-1 at Debre Zeit. At Akaki yield range was between 2.45 and 5.04t ha-1 with mean of 3.992t ha-1. 25 varieties surpassed Arendato (3.754t ha-1) at this location. In the combined ANOVA significant difference between the varieties was observed only for spike length, spikelets spike-1, grains spikelet, grains spike-1, plant height, days to flowering, thousand grain weight and hectoliter weight. Varieties specifically adapted to only one of the locations, widely adapted varieties and varieties not adapted to any of the locations were identified. Regression analysis revealed that grain yield has increased by 22kg ha-1 year-1 since 1966; an increase of 40.6% over yield in 1966. This was accompanied with a significant decline of 11.4% in spike length, 6.7% in spikelets spike-1, 17.9% in protein content and 31.2% in protein yield ha-1 and a significant increase of 41.1% in grains spikelet-1, 32.9% in number of grains spike-1, 22.3% in thousand grain weight, 17.8% in grain filling period, 23.9% in seed growth rate, 40.1% in grain yield production rate, 7.9% in harvest index.
Primary Author: Dejene, Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research
The Ethiopian plateau hosts thousands of durum wheat landraces cultivated in low input agriculture conducted by an estimated 70 million smallholder farmers. Having thoroughly characterized the phenotypic and molecular uniqueness of Ethiopian durum wheat landraces, we produced a large nested association mapping (NAM) population harnessing their mostly untapped diversity in a set of recombinant inbred lines (RIL). The NAM founders are 50 landraces providing valuable traits such as drought tolerance and resistance to pests, and maximizing molecular diversity. Each selected landrace was crossed to a durum wheat line with an international background (Asassa), establishing independent interconnected bi-parental families, for a total of 6,280 RILs currently in F8. The Ethiopian NAM is at once i) a powerful QTL mapping tool that will side the increasing availability of genomic tools in wheat towards high-throughput candidate genes identification, and ii) a large pre-breeding panel closing the gap between local and international materials. Here we discuss the molecular and phenotypic characterization of twelve NAM families, represented by 100 RILs each. The 1,200 NAM RIL showed elevated allelic variation and a genetic structure reminiscent of the breeding design followed. The NAM RILs were phenotyped for ten agronomic and five disease traits in multiple locations in the Ethiopian highlands. A quantitative method eliciting smallholder farmers traditional knowledge was used to record local farmers appreciation of NAM RILs in all phenotyping locations. We report that the superior genetic properties of the NAM can be used to map QTL for both agronomic and farmer traits with unprecedented precision. The most promising NAM RILs can be identified combining farmers appreciation and agronomic measures, and prioritized for introgression of Ethiopian landraces traits in breeding pipelines aiming at higher uptake and productivity in local agriculture.
Primary Author: Dell'Acqua, Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna