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Yellow rust epidemics worldwide were caused by pathogen races from divergent genetic lineages

New scientific article - Frontiers in Plant Science, June 2017

2017.06.01 | Jens Grønbech Hansen

Relative distribution of recently emerged P. striiformis races from divergent lineages across eight worldwide geographical regions during the period 2009-2015. Click on the map to enlarge.


Wheat, the most widely grown food crop in the world, is vulnerable to environmental stresses including plant disease. Here we show that recent and severe epidemics of wheat yellow rust in different parts of the world, caused by the fungal pathogen Puccinia striiformis, were often driven by races from few but highly divergent genetic lineages. Other races were generally present in low frequencies based on the 887 worldwide representative isolates, while the race diversity was high in South Asia representing the pathogen’s center of diversity. The resistance genes remained important in selection of virulences in pathogen populations. The overall results emphasized the lack of predictability in terms of time and area of emergence of new pathogen races with high epidemic potential. This stresses the need for stakeholder engagement at all levels, i.e., research in pathogen biology and epidemic drivers, investments in coordinated surveillance activities of pathogens spreading at global scales, and assessments of disease vulnerability of host varieties prior to their deployment at larger scales.

Original Research ARTICLE

Front. Plant Sci. | doi: 10.3389/fpls.2017.01057

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Revised 20.06.2017