Mission and Goals

We are pleased that the activities of the Global Rust Reference Center for yellow rust (GRRC), which was established in Denmark by the end of 2008, on behalf of CIMMYT, ICARDA and Aarhus University, are now being extended to cover wheat (black) stem rust.

We have just upgraded our rust quarantine greenhouse and lab facilities, so we are ready to receive samples of both stem rust and yellow rust for diagnosis of race in a secure environment, and we also look forward to assist in training of students and young scientists from all over the world in wheat rust pathology

Our present capacity is limited, so the submission of samples is coordinated and prioritized by CIMMYT and ICARDA, in collaboration with national rust diagnostic laboratories and research institutes. Most samples, by far, will need to be processed by national or regional diagnostic laboratories. As our name suggests, we are a reference center serving the Borlaug Global Rust Initiative

The major advances of having a facility, which can receive alive samples of wheat rust year round, from any country in the world, are manifold:

  • New outbreaks of rust epidemics, for example on previously resistant wheat cultivars, can be diagnosed rapid and efficient so that preventive and control measures can be implemented without delay.
  • Comparisons of rust samples of geographical distant origin can be made without delay in a single environment by expert technical staff. This will assist us in tracking pathogen movements at regional and global scales, and improve the basis for disease warnings and forecasts.
  • Access for students and researchers in plant breeding to test new wheat breeding lines with world-wide collection of rust races, facilitating the development of new rust resistant wheats.
  • We consider the unique combination of having alive bio-assays of pathogen ‘races’ in house, and the possibility to investigate the same material by advanced molecular tools, as a major advance for understanding the evolutionary processes of the wheat rusts.

In the past decade, the rapid spread of aggressive strains of yellow rust, and the emergence and spread of Ug99, have demonstrated that only combined, international efforts may solve or reduce these serious problems, which are threatening the daily bread supply in many wheat growing areas in Asia and Africa.

After expanding the activities of the Global Rust Reference Center to stem rust, the next big challenge is to scale up the activities to fight the escalating yellow rust epidemics. This pathogen is evolving so fast and it’s spreading at unprecedented scales throughout most wheat growing areas. The tools, the facilities and the expertise are ready.