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SCPRID project in Africa

Implementing effective marker technologies into disease resistance wheat breeding programmes within Africa

Contact: Dr Lesley Boyd

Dr Lesley Boyd has collaborated with Prof. Zakkie Pretorius and Dr. Renée Prins ( since 1996 when stripe rust first appeared as a field disease of wheat in South Africa [1,2].

SARID project teamIn 2008, funded by the BBSRC SARID initiative a four-year project 'Assessment of genetic biodiversity of durable disease resistance in African wheat genotypes, leading to the development of markers for wheat breeding' fine mapped stripe rust resistance in the South African variety Kariega [1,2,4], genetically characterised durable stripe rust resistance derived from the European variety Cappelle-Desprez [3] and undertook a genetic association screen of stem rust resistance, effective against the Ug99-derived races found in eastern Africa and subsequently in South Africa, in a collection of wheat genotypes originating from across Africa. These analyses involved a successful collaboration with Dr. Susanne Dreisigacker from CIMMYT, Mexico.

The success of the SARID project resulted in the team being awarded a four-year BBSRC SCPRID initiative grant Stem rustin 2012 “Implementing effective marker technologies into disease resistance wheat breeding programmes within Africa”. This extends the collaboration to include partners at the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (KALRO), Njoro, Kenya, including the Head of Cereal Breeding, Dr. Peter Njau and Dr. Godwin Macharia. This new project will validate the stem rust resistance identified in the genetic association studies, while genetically characterising additional stem rust resistance in Kenyan wheat populations, and undertaking mechanistic studies of stripe rust resistance.

In addition to the genetic and mechanistic studies of partial and adult plant resistance of stripe and stem rust, this project will build facilities and human capacity, and establish state-of-the-art DNA marker technologies in both South Africa and Kenya.


[1] VP Ramburan, ZA Pretorius, LA Boyd, PH Smith, WHP Boshoff and R Prins (2004) A genetic analysis of adult plant resistance to stripe rust in the wheat cultivar Kariega. Theoretical and Applied Genetics 108: 1426-1433.

[2] R Prins, VP Ramburan ZA Pretorius, LA Boyd, WHP Boshoff, PH Smith and JH Louw (2005) Development of a doubled haploid mapping population and linkage map for the bread wheat cross Kariega x Avocet S. The South African Journal of Plant and Soil 22: 1-8. 

[3] GM Agenbag, ZA Pretorius, LA Boyd, CM Bender and R Prins (2012) Identification of adult plant resistance to stripe rust in the wheat cultivar Cappelle-Desprez. Theoretical and Applied Genetics 125: 109-120.

[4] GM Agenbag,  ZA Pretorius,  LA Boyd, CM Bender, R MacCormack and R Prins (2014) High-resolution mapping and new marker development for adult plant stripe rust resistance QTL in the wheat cultivar Kariega. Mol Breeding (online early) DOI 10.1007/s11032-014-0158-4

Stem rust research in Africa

From left to right: stripe rust in wheat; PhD student Gloudi Agenbag with Dr. Renée Prins from the University of the Free State in South Africa; Dr. Renée Prins, NIAB's Dr Lesley Boyd and the University of the Free State's Prof. Zakkie Pretorius