Wheat researchers announced progress this week toward the production of new types of high-yielding wheat containing multiple minor genes that have resistance to Ug99, a virulent stem rust to which 90 percent of wheat varieties are susceptible.
The announcement was made as scientists from around the world met in Mexico to share their progress in combating the threat.
Though the new varieties would not be as protected against Ug99 as varieties with one or two major resistance genes, the multiple minor genes should still be effective in providing resistance. Researchers also believe that by forcing the fungus to overcome a larger array of genetic barriers, these new wheat varieties could provide long-term protection against future stem rust mutations.
Scientists at the meeting also outlined a monitoring project that will be active in 29 countries, feeding data into an online monitoring system.
In the U.S., NAWG, the National Wheat Improvement Committee and other wheat groups have been working to secure funding for important Ug99 research, especially through international research centers. The recently-passed FY2009 omnibus spending bill included $1.5 million for Ug99 research.
Ug99, so named because it was first discovered in Uganda in 1999, can cause 100 percent yield loss in infected plants. The disease, which is primarily spread through wind, has traveled as far as Iran.
For more on this week’s events, please visit http://www.globalrust.org/resources.cfm?m=50