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Wheat Stem Rust Back in Europe: Diversity, Prevalence and Impact on Host Resistance

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  • Mehran Patpour
  • Mogens Støvring Hovmøller
  • Julian Rodriguez-Algaba
  • Biago Randazzo, Societa Semplice Agricola Randazzo (AS.A.R.), Palermo, Italy
  • Dolors Villegas, Institute for Food and Agricultural Research and Technology (IRTA), Spain
  • Vladimir P. Shamanin, Department of Agronomy, Omsk State Agrarian University, Russian Federation
  • Anna Berlin, Department of Forest Mycology and Plant Pathology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Sweden
  • Kerstin Flath, Julius Kühn Institut (JKI), Federal Research Center for Cultivated Plants, Germany
  • Pawel Czembor, Plant Breeding and Acclimatization Institute, Radzikow, Poland
  • Alena Hanzalova, Department of Genetics and Plant Breeding Methods, Crop Research Institute, Czech Republic
  • Svetlana Slikova, National Agricultural and Food Centre, Slovakia
  • Ekaterina S. Skolotneva, Institute of Cytology and Genetics, SB RAS, Novosibirsk, Russian Federation
  • Yue Jin, USDA-ARS, Cereal Disease Laboratory, United States
  • Les Szabo, USDA-ARS, Cereal Disease Laboratory, United States
  • Kevin J. G. Meyer, Université Paris-Saclay, INRAE, UR BIOGER, France
  • Romain Valade, ARVALIS - Institut du Végétal, France
  • Tine Thach
  • Jens Grønbech Hansen
  • Annemarie Fejer Justesen

The objective of this study was to investigate the re-emergence of a previously important crop pathogen in Europe, Puccinia graminis f.sp. tritici, causing wheat stem rust. The pathogen has been insignificant in Europe for more than 60 years, but since 2016 it has caused epidemics on both durum wheat and bread wheat in local areas in southern Europe, and additional outbreaks in Central- and West Europe. The prevalence of three distinct genotypes/races in many areas, Clade III-B (TTRTF), Clade IV-B (TKTTF) and Clade IV-F (TKKTF), suggested clonal reproduction and evolution by mutation within these. None of these genetic groups and races, which likely originated from exotic incursions, were detected in Europe prior to 2016. A fourth genetic group, Clade VIII, detected in Germany (2013), was observed in several years in Central- and East Europe. Tests of representative European wheat varieties with prevalent races revealed high level of susceptibility. In contrast, high diversity with respect to virulence and Simple Sequence Repeat (SSR) markers were detected in local populations on cereals and grasses in proximity to Berberis species in Spain and Sweden, indicating that the alternate host may return as functional component of the epidemiology of wheat stem rust in Europe. A geographically distant population from Omsk and Novosibirsk in western Siberia (Russia) also revealed high genetic diversity, but clearly different from current European populations. The presence of Sr31-virulence in multiple and highly diverse races in local populations in Spain and Siberia stress that virulence may emerge independently when large geographical areas and time spans are considered and that Sr31-virulence is not unique to Ug99. All isolates of the Spanish populations, collected from wheat, rye and grass species, were succesfully recovered on wheat, which underline the plasticity of host barriers within P. graminis. The study demonstrated successful alignment of two genotyping approaches and race phenotyping methodologies employed by different laboratories, which also allowed us to line up with previous European and international studies of wheat stem rust. Our results suggest new initiatives within disease surveillance, epidemiological research and resistance breeding to meet current and future challenges by wheat stem rust in Europe and beyond.

Original languageEnglish
Article number882440
JournalFrontiers in Plant Science
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022

    Research areas

  • Puccinia graminis, black rust, re-emergence, exotic incursion, common barberry, virulence, Sr31

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