UKCPVS NEWS: Pathogen monitoring reaches golden milestone

7 Feb 2017

Key changes to pathogen populations over the past 50 years will be outlined at this year’s UK Cereal Pathogen Virulence Survey (UKCPVS) stakeholder event.

Cereal pathogen populations have been monitored in the UK since 1967 and, to celebrate this golden anniversary, UKCPVS project manager and NIAB pathologist Dr Sarah Holdgate will reflect on the major population changes since recording began and the implications these changes had on plant breeding.

Professor Nicola Spence, UK Chief Plant Health Officer at Defra, will also highlight the importance of disease surveillance to UK plant health.

Based on infected leaf samples gathered in 2016, the latest pathogen virulence data for mildews, wheat brown rust and wheat yellow rust will also be presented.

Targeted at breeders, crop scientists and technical agronomists, the 2017 event takes place on 8 March at NIAB in Cambridgeshire.

Birthday ‘INVICTAtion’

The success of UKCPVS has been due, in part, to the valuable role played by agronomists, trials officers and researchers, who have submitted infected cereal leaf samples for analysis.

Dr Holdgate said: “For over half a century, leaf samples have been received by UKCPVS and this has allowed pathogen virulence to be charted.

“The biggest change in the past 50 years, arguably, has been to the wheat yellow rust population.

“The initial detection of the Warrior race in 2011, followed by its total dominance and increasing diversity in the UK population, means its presence continues to be felt in the field.

“Last year, UKCPVS also confirmed the presence of the ‘Kranich’ race and a potential new race – provisionally named ‘Invicta’ – in the UK yellow rust population.

“AHDB issued major revisions to varietal disease ratings last autumn and we will provide a timely update ahead of the key spray period.”

The Earlham Institute’s Dr Diane Saunders will also provide an update on field pathogenomics.

Based on gene sequencing technology, field pathogenomics can be used to classify pathogen isolates into distinct genetic groups (based on how related they are) and track the international movement of pathogen populations.

Book your place

For further information on the free-to-attend event, visit

Monitoring changes in pathogen virulence

Managed by NIAB, and funded by AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds and Defra, the UK Cereal Pathogen Virulence Survey (UKCPVS) receives infected cereal leaf samples from agronomists, trials officers and researchers.

From these samples, pathogen isolates are selected and tested to check their virulence against wheat and barley varieties. The testing can detect new races of cereal pathogens capable of causing disease on previously resistant cereal varieties.