Leaf rust (LR) caused by Puccinia triticina, is among the most important diseases of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) crops globally. Deployment of cultivars incorporating genetic resistance, such as adult plant resistance (APR) or all-stage resistance, is considered the most sustainable control method. APR is preferred for durability because it places lower selection pressure on the pathogen and is often polygenic. In the search for new sources of APR, here we explored a diversity panel sourced from the N. I. Vavilov Institute of Plant Genetic Resources. Based on DNA marker screening, 83 of the 300 lines were deemed to carry known APR genes; namely, Lr34, Lr46, and Lr67. Interestingly, lines carrying Lr67 were mostly landraces from India and Pakistan, reconfirming the likely origin of the gene. Rapid phenotypic screening using a method that integrates assessment at both seedling and adult growth stages under accelerated growth conditions (i.e., constant light and controlled temperature) identified 50 lines carrying APR. Levels of APR corresponded well with phenotypes obtained in a field nursery inoculated using the same pathotype (R2 = 0.82). The second year of field testing, using a mixture of pathotypes with additional virulence for race-specific APR genes (Lr13 and Lr37), identified a subset of 13 lines that consistently displayed high levels of APR across years and pathotypes. These lines provide useful sources of resistance for future research. A strategy combining rapid generation advance coupled with phenotyping under controlled conditions could accelerate introgression of these potentially novel alleles into adapted genetic backgrounds.
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As there are numerous pathogen species that cause disease and limit yields of crops, such as wheat (Triticum aestivum), single genes that provide resistance to multiple pathogens are valuable in crop improvement. The mechanistic basis of multi-pathogen resistance is largely unknown. Here we use comparative genomics, mutagenesis and transformation to isolate the wheat Lr67 gene, which confers partial resistance to all three wheat rust pathogen species and powdery mildew. The Lr67 resistance gene encodes a predicted hexose transporter (LR67res) that differs from the susceptible form of the same protein (LR67sus) by two amino acids that are conserved in orthologous hexose transporters. Sugar uptake assays show that LR67sus, and related proteins encoded by homeoalleles, function as high-affinity glucose transporters. LR67res exerts a dominant-negative effect through heterodimerization with these functional transporters to reduce glucose uptake. Alterations in hexose transport in infected leaves may explain its ability to reduce the growth of multiple biotrophic pathogen species.