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The challenge

Being prepared for crop diseases of the future

Barley production is threatened by rust diseases which are caused by fungal pathogens that spread rapidly during outbreaks and can result in significant yield losses. Multiple types of rust diseases including barley leaf rust, stem rust and stripe rust, caused by the fungal species Puccinia hordei, P. striiformis and P. graminis respectively, can have major impacts on susceptible barley varieties.

Although leaf rust is most commonly found across barley-growing regions of Australia, other rusts can emerge at any time due to either favourable weather events, pathogen evolution or introduction from other parts of the world. Genetic resistance is the most economical and environmentally sustainable solution to rust disease management. However, only a small number of resistance genes against barley rust have been identified to date.

Barley production is threatened by rust diseases which are caused by fungal pathogens that spread rapidly during outbreaks and can result in significant yield losses.

In addition, rust pathogens are adaptable and can evolve into new strains that can overcome existing resistant genes present in cultivars. Therefore, it is important to manage the disease with multiple resistance sources to gain durable resistance and secure future barley production.

Our response

Delivering sources of genetic resistance for barley breeders

Together with the Australian Cereal Rust Control Program (ACRCP) we are working in collaboration with our partners from the University of Sydney Plant Breeding Institute and the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) to genetically characterise novel sources of resistance to rust disease. We develop diagnostic markers that can be used by Australian barley breeders to rapidly transfer characterised resistance genes into their breeding programs to develop new, durable resistant barley varieties. In addition, testing if combinations of different resistant genes can influence resistance levels will provide valuable knowledge to prioritise the most effective genes for use in breeding programs.

The results

Accelerating gene delivery

CSIRO has a long history of successful resistance gene discovery in wheat providing resistance against rust disease and this expertise is greatly beneficial for our work on barley and oat. We are implementing state-of-the-art data driven marker and gene discovery pipelines to shorten the timespan between discovery of suitable resistance sources and delivery of linked diagnostic markers to breeders.

These approaches are also widely applicable for other crops and diseases, providing broader impact for the Australian grain industry. Please get in contact with us to learn more about our work on barley disease resistance or are interested in collaborating with us.

Our collaborators

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