story to find out more.
Nobel Peace Prize
winner Norman Borlaug (second from left) believes Ug99 is the most serious
threat to wheat and barley in 50 years. He is shown here consulting with Kenyan
and CIMMYT leaders near wheat plots in Kenya. Click the image for more
information about it.
Sentry Lab Searches for Threats to U.S. Grains
Comis June 6, 2006
For more than 80 years, the Agricultural Research Service (ARS)
Disease Laboratory in St. Paul, Minn., has been a sentry for wheat, barley
and oat diseases. In addition to monitoring for wheat scab, leaf rust, stripe
rust and Asian soybean rusta fairly recent arrival to this
countryARS scientists at St. Paul and elsewhere are also monitoring for a
new strain of stem rust from Africa.
The new strain of the wheat stem rust, Ug99, has emerged as an
international threat to wheat and barley that could affect the Green
Revolution's outstanding yield increases of 50 years ago. Rusts are fungal
diseases whose spores are spread by the wind. Ug99 first surfaced in Uganda in
1999. It is now in Kenya and Ethiopia.
The Green Revolution is the name for breeding successes by Nobel Peace
Prize winner Norman Borlaug and CIMMYT,
the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center based in Mexicowith
help from ARS. Breeding wheat resistance to stem rust was a major reason for
At Borlaug's request, ARS is leading a search for resistance to Ug99
in U.S. wheat, as part of a new Global
ARS plant pathologist
Jin found that 80 percent of the hard red spring wheat grown in the U.S.
Northern Plains has no resistance to this new race of stem rust. However, there
are sources of resistance and Jin is working with breeders to develop resistant
If Ug99 does reach this country, it will likely first be spotted by
the Cereal Disease Laboratory scientists who monitor fields from south to north
annually. ARS geneticist
Szabo is working on developing molecular tools to detect Ug99. This test
would detect spores in rain samples. Currently, Szabo is using rain samples
sent by the National Atmospheric Deposition
Program network to monitor the movement of Asian soybean rust fungal
ARS has a network of sentinel nurseries throughout the barley- and
wheat-growing areas of the United States to detect rust diseases.
about the research in the June 2006 issue of Agricultural Research
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.