Phase 2 (2006 Deadline)
Secure Pakistan Wheat Production through Controlling Rusts
Close-ups of wheat affected by stripe rust (Puccinia striiformis f. sp. tritici) (photo courtesy of Dr. Muhammad Ashraf)
Xianming Chen, Washington State University
Muhammad Ashraf, National University of Sciences and Technology
Pakistani Funding (HEC): $241,884
US Funding: $100,001
Project Dates on US Side: February 1, 2007 - January 31, 2011
Wheat is an essential food resource and grown all across Pakistan. With ever-increasing yield targets to meet national production goals, incorporation of stripe rust resistance into Pakistan’s leading cultivars is currently a high priority. Monoculture of the Inqilab 91 variety has caused stripe rust to become widespread, and cultivar susceptibility is posing serious problems. The need for new genes to counter the threat is crucial, and this project was aimed at identifying genes offering protection against rust virulences and transferring them into commercial cultivars using efficient molecular tools. Wheat rusts are a major threat to production in the United States as well, so the results of this project should benefit wheat producers in both countries.
This project aimed to adapt the system, approaches, and technologies established in the US partner’s laboratory in studying epidemiology of wheat stripe and stem and leaf rusts, identifying wheat germplasm resistance to these diseases, and developing molecular markers for efficient breeding of resistant wheat cultivars to control these diseases and thus secure wheat production in Pakistan. Another goal of this project was to support Dr. Ashraf's efforts to establish a genotyping lab at his university along the lines of a laboratory recently created in the US Department of Agriculture—Agricultural Research Service unit at Washington State University, which will give Pakistani researchers new opportunities to use modern molecular techniques. Through the project, the partners involved exchanged wheat germplasm with rust resistance and other valuable traits, an exchange that should also be beneficial for wheat breeding programs in the United States. In addition to the primary partner institutions, the project also involved researchers from the National Wheat Research Station of Ayub Agriculture Research Institute in Faisalabad and used the research fields of the Wheat Research Institute, Pir Sabak; the Regional Agriculture Institute at Bahawalpur; and the Sakrand Wheat Research Station, Sindh.
- Characterized 46 wheat stripe rust samples collected from Pakistan and identified 27 virulence races from the pathogen population
- Discovered that the Pakistan stripe rust population is the most diverse among the pathogen samples from 12 countries
- Evaluated 320 Pakistani wheat germplasms for resistance to stripe rust under test field and greenhouse conditions, which led to the identification of wheat germplasms with race-specific all-stage resistance and/or high-temperature adult-plant (HTAP) resistance, results that are very useful for selecting resistant cultivars to grow and resistant genetic stocks for use in breeding programs to develop new rust-resistant strains
- Trained three Pakistan scientists or PhD students in person at the USDA-ARS Wheat Genetics, Quality, Physiology, and Disease Research Unit and Washington State University, with training provided to another scientist via e-mail communication—all trainees have become leading scientists working on cereal rusts in Pakistan
Progress Report Summaries
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2010 Show summary || Hide summary || Download full report
Thanks to a no-cost extension, the researchers had time to complete additional field trials in both Pakistan and the United States to test the resistance of selected lines to stripe rust in 2010. PhD student Hadi Bux also completed his doctoral study under supervision of Drs. Ashraf and Chen. One joint publication on the project appeared in 2010 in Science in China Series C--Life Sciences, and another joint article was submitted to the same journal. A few more papers and one book were still to be published.
By the time the project ended as of January 31, 2011, the researchers had completed their planned objectives. However, they will continue working together to publish additional results and collaborate on wheat germplasm screening and stripe rust monitoring and characterization. They have selected two Pakistan wheat landraces, developed segregation populations, and determined the genetics of their stripe rust resistance, and they will focus on mapping the resistance genes in the next step.
2009 Show summary || Hide summary || Download full report
In 2009 Dr. Ashraf conducted additional field trials and collection trips on the Pakistani side. Although he moved to NUST during this year, he maintains access to the plant genotyping laboratory he established at QAU in the first year of the project. That facility was operational and fully equipped to support DNA extraction, as well as genotyping based on short sequence repeats and randomly amplified polymorphic DNA, and it provided an excellent infrastructure for the five QAU students who completed their M.Phil. research related to this project in 2009. Meanwhile, Dr. Chen continued his experimental work on molecular markers and on field and greenhouse testing of wheat varieties for rust resistance. PhD student Hadi Bux arrived at WSU in early November 2009 to receive training and took part in the research effort, with the cost of his visit being paid fully by the Pakistani side.
2008 Show summary || Hide summary || Download full report
PhD student Sobia Tabassum of Quaid-e-Azam University (QAU, where Dr. Ashraf was based prior to his 2009 move to NUST) visited Dr. Chen’s lab from February to September 2008. She tested more than 100 Pakistani wheat cultivars and genotypes under controlled greenhouse conditions with stripe rust pathotypes from the United States and Pakistan and in fields under natural infection. She also worked on identifying molecular markers for determining the genetic diversity of the Pakistani wheat cultivars and developing markers associated with resistance genes in the wheat germplasm.
2007 Show summary || Hide summary || Download full report
Since the project’s inception in the spring of 2007, researchers on both sides worked to analyze the germplasm samples that were collected and conducted field trials on more than 40 wheat lines to determine their susceptibility to leaf, stripe, and stem rusts. New crosses were also cultivated and studied. On the Pakistani side, a research associate and PhD and MS students were engaged to work on the project.
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