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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].

In 2008, funded by the BBSRC SARID initiative a four-year project 'Assessment of genetic biodiversity of durable disease resistance in SARID project teamAfrican wheat genotypes, leading to the development of markers for wheat breeding' fine mapped stripe rust resistance in the South African wheat 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. This project has validated the stem rust resistance identified in the genetic association studies [5],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 has built facilities and human capacity (Case Study III), and established state-of-the-art DNA marker technologies in both South Africa (Case Study I) and Kenya (Case Study II).

PhD student: Hester van Schalkwyk. Thesis title “A Pathogenomic Approach Towards Characterising the South African Population of Puccinia striiformis f. sp. tritici, the Causal Agent of Wheat Stripe Rust”. This established a new collaboration with Dr Diane Saunders, Earlham Institute, Norwich, UK.

PhD student: Howard Castelyn. Thesis title "Molecular and cellular analysis of adult plant resistance in wheat to Puccinia graminis f. sp. tritici".

PhD student: Mercy Nasimiyu Wamalwa. Thesis title “Wheat Stripe Rust Race Analysis and Mapping of Resistant Genes in 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

[5] R Prins, S Dreisigacker; Z Pretorius, H van Schalkwyk, E Wessels, C Smit, C Bender, D Singh, LA Boyd (2016) Stem rust resistance in a geographically diverse collection of spring wheat lines collected from across Africa. Frontiers in Plant Science (doi: 10.3389/fpls.2016.00973)

Stem rust research in Africa

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