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Global wheat stem rust monitoring: meeting the challenges of a re-emerging threat to wheat production

David Hodson: CIMMYT

<div>Wheat stem rust, one of the most destructive disease on one of the world’s primary staple food crops is considered by some to be a conquered past threat. Or is it? Epidemics caused by highly virulent races in East Africa in the last two decades raised concerns amongst global wheat scientists that stem rust had returned as a significant threat to wheat production after decades in abeyance. As a result, a global rust monitoring system focussed on stem rust was initiated. The characteristics, evolution and successes of this global monitoring system are described. Over the last decade, an international consortium has developed one of the most comprehensive and wide reaching crop disease monitoring systems, covering nearly 40 countries. Extensive surveillance networks and diagnostic platforms are now supported by state of the art data management systems and advanced modelling / forecasting tools. The current status, characteristics and threats posed by new stem rust race groups in East Africa, Central Asia, Russia and Europe are highlighted. Increasing vulnerability of North American wheat production to exotic race incursions is also considered. Whilst monitoring has been successful, the case is presented that wheat stem rust is re-emerging rapidly as a significant threat to global wheat production that needs increased and intensified collaborative research effort and attention.</div>

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