Wheat Rust Threat
10 August 2011
The article, filmed in Kenya in October 2011, describes the threat posed by Ug99, a highly virulent race of the wheat stem rust pathogen. Wheat stem rust is one of the most feared plant diseases and can cause total crop failure. A single epidemic in eastern Australian in 1973 caused some $300 million in losses. Ug99 is significant in that it renders many of the world's wheat cultivars susceptible.
It was first detected in Uganda in 1999, and has since spread to Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, Yemen, Iran, and South Africa. Also interviewed in the story was Dr Sridhar Bavhani, who completed his PhD in rust genetics at the Plant Breeding Institute and now works for the International Wheat and Maize Improvement Centre in Kenya. Dr Bavhani coordinates the field testing of wheat germplasm which is being developed with inbuilt genetic resistance to Ug99 and other rust threats, and is also involved in collaborative research with Professor Park's group which is searching for new genes for resistance to Ug99 in wheat.
Contact: Prof Robert Park
Phone: 02 9351 8806