Wheat stem rust virulence molecule discovery leads to gains against the disease


In Minnesota, for the first time ever, scientists are gaining ground in the race against wheat stem rust, a pathogen that threatens global food security because of its ability to kill wheat in a matter of weeks.
A team of researchers have discovered the first rust virulence molecule that wheat plants detect to switch on built-in resistance and stave off the disease.
“For the first time, it will be possible to do DNA testing to identify whether a rust in a wheat crop anywhere in the world can overcome a rust-resistance gene, called Sr50, which is being introduced in high-yielding wheat varieties,” said University of Sydney Professor of Sustainable Agriculture Robert Park, co-leader of the research team. “This will indicate whether or not a given wheat crop needs to be sprayed with expensive fungicide quickly to protect against rust, which would otherwise devastate the crop in a matter of weeks.”
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