The migration of Ug99 variants of Puccinia graminis f. sp. tritici is of concern to global wheat production (1). Seven races have been characterized in the Ug99 lineage (3), three of which occur in South Africa (4). During surveys of wheat fields for Ug99 in Zimbabwe and Mozambique in August and September 2010, high stem rust severities were found at Chiredzi, Chisumbanje, and Birchenough in Zimbabwe and at Rotanda in Mozambique. Stem rust was widespread in the lowlands (<800 m above sea level) of Zimbabwe and trace amounts were present in the mid-altitude areas. In Mozambique, stem rust was only observed at Rotanda (sample Moz1001). Collections from Chiredzi (samples Zim1004 and Zim1005), Chisumbanje (Zim1006), and Birchenough (Zim1009 and Zim1010) yielded viable urediniospores for infection studies. According to race analysis conducted on seedlings of the North American stem rust differential set (2) in a greenhouse at 18 to 25°C, Zim1005 and Zim1006 were typed as PTKST and Zim1004 and Zim1009 as TTKSF. Both TTKSF and PTKST were detected in the Zim1010 sample. Race analysis experiments were conducted three times. Urediniospores of isolate Moz1001 were not viable in infection studies, but yielded fungal DNA for simple sequence repeat (SSR) analysis. Using eight selected SSR primer combinations (4), all six isolates clustered within the Ug99 lineage. Isolates Zim1005, Zim1006, Zim1009, Zim1010, and Moz1001 and the stem rust control races TTKSF, TTKSK, and PTKST grouped into two main clusters, with Zim1009 and Zim1010 clustering together and sharing 88% similarity with the rest of the isolates. Zim1005 and Zim1006 were identical to TTKSF and TTKSK, respectively. Zim1004 shared 96% genetic similarity with the TTKSP control, with these two sharing 74% genetic similarity with the remaining isolates. The SSR data correlated with the infection data, except for Zim1004, which was typed as TTKSF but clustered close to TTKSP. Wheat cvs. SC Nduna, SC Shine, SC Stallion, SC Smart, Kana, Insiza, and Dande are predominant in Zimbabwe. Cv. SC Stallion and other unidentified cultivars were susceptible to P. graminis f. sp. tritici in the field in Zimbabwe. In Mozambique, the tall, local cv. Sitsonko was susceptible to P. graminis f. sp. tritici but no infections were observed on SC Nduna or SC Shine. The similarity in P. graminis f. sp. tritici races in Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Mozambique suggests that inoculum is exchanged within the region and explains the detection of race PTKST in South Africa in 2009. Trajectory models showed winds originating at Birchenough in October 2009, where stem rust was observed, passing directly over KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa within 48 to 72 h. Race PTKST was confirmed from collections in KwaZulu-Natal in November 2009 (4). The confirmation of Sr31 virulence in race PTKST in Zimbabwe is important because it provides new geographical records for an Ug99-related race and puts Southern African cultivars with 1B.1R resistance at risk.
References: (1) D. Hodson. Euphytica 179:93, 2011. (2) Y. Jin et al. Plant Dis. 92:923, 2008. (3) R. F. Park et al. Euphytica 179:109, 2011. (4) B. Visser et al. Euphytica 179:119, 2011.
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