Barberry species in Europe can function as hosts for Puccinia striiformis strains
Sexual reproduction can result in novel and unique virulence combinations that can have negative consequences for wheat production.
In two articles recently published in the European Journal of Plant Pathology (https://doi.org/10.1007/s10658-019-01919-4) and Plant Disease (https://doi.org/10.1094/PDIS-02-21-0269-SC), scientists demonstrated that:
- a race of the yellow rust fungus Puccinia striiformis (“Kranich”race, detected in several European countries) was able to reproduce on the alternate host Berberis vulgaris and,
- B. vulgaris subspp. seroi and australis, which are indigenous in Spain, were confirmed susceptible to the yellow rust fungus.
In both studies, novel genetic diversity was observed on the primary wheat host after sexual reproduction.
Furthermore, two new barberry subspecies were proven susceptible to the yellow rust fungus that can now be added to the approximately 50 Berberis species confirmed susceptible to the yellow rust fungus under natural or experimental conditions.
Currently, there are no indications of sexual reproduction in the contemporary European yellow rust population, however the results stress the importance of rust surveillance in areas where barberry species and wheat coexist and suitable conditions for completion of the sexual cycle are present. Sexual reproduction could result in novel and unique virulence combinations that can have negative consequences for wheat production.
This research was supported by the European Commission, Research and Innovation, Horizon 2020-Sustainable Food Security (Grant number 773311–2, RUSTWATH), the Danish Council of Strategic Research, Ministry of Science, Innovation and Higher Education – Denmark (Grant Number 11-116241) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (Delivering Genetic Gain in Wheat, DGGW).
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