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The Borlaug Global Rust Initiative: A Successful Cooperative International Research Community
M. ROUSE (1), S. D. Evanega (2), D. Coffman (2). (1) USDA-ARS and University of Minnesota, Saint Paul, MN, U.S.A.; (2) Cornell Univ, Highland, NY, U.S.A.

The Borlaug Global Rust Initiative (BGRI) was launched by wheat scientists in 2005 to raise awareness and address the threat of Ug99 stem rust. In 2008, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funded the Durable Rust Resistance in Wheat (DRRW) project with an initial investment of $26 million USD followed by $40 million USD in 2011 in cooperation with the UK Department for International Development. The DRRW project involves over 22 partners from around the world forming a multifaceted approach to protect wheat from Ug99 stem rust. Since 2008, scientists involved in the project have made significant advances including the increase or release of 39 Ug99-resistant wheat varieties in nine countries in Asia and East Africa where Ug99 poses the greatest threat. BGRI/DRRW scientists have described molecular markers linked to 15 known Ug99 resistance genes and have described 25 previously uncharacterized Ug99 resistance loci. This diversity of genetic resources provides wheat breeders with the tools necessary to incorporate multiple Ug99 resistance genes in cultivars. Comprehensive investments in rust research capacity in East Africa, pathogen monitoring through surveying rust incidence, race-typing international stem rust collections, developing dispersion models, surveying the alternate host of the stem rust pathogen, and utilization of molecular assays for detection of Ug99 have provided timely data on the status of Ug99 and facilitated effective resistance breeding.

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