Developing a European early-warning system for wheat rust diseases

27 Jun 18 Image

Developing a European early-warning system for wheat rust diseases

Launch in May 2018 of the European H2020 RustWatch program on wheat rust prevention and control  

Three rust diseases have a strong impact worldwide on yield losses in soft wheat:  

  • Puccinia striiformis -> Yellow Rust, 
  • Puccinia graminis tritici -> Black Rust, 
  • Puccinia triticina -> Brown Rust.

For yellow rust, worldwide annual losses are over US$979 million (Beddow et al., 2015) and their virulence has increased since the appearance of the Warrior races in 2011. 

The European H2020 RustWatch programme (SFS-10-2017, Research & Innovation action), on wheat rust, entitled “A European early-warning system for wheat rust diseases” will provide an early warning system and better control of rust breeds present in Europe. This programme, led by the University of Aarhus in Denmark, started on 1st May 2018 for a duration of 4 years, involving 24 partners from 13 countries: research institutes, examination offices, technical institutes and breeders. Five major work-packages have been defined: 

  • WP1: Better knowledge of factor biology and their vectors 
  • WP2: Disease prevention through host resistance 
  • WP3: Stakeholder networks, infrastructure sharing and case studies 
  • WP4: Information and Data Management Integration 
  • WP5: Coordination 

RustWatch will develop an early warning system for rust prevention and control, based on a multi-stakeholder and multi-network approach, such as the Value for Cultivation and Use (VCU) registration network at European level, and on the sharing of communication and research infrastructures. Genotyping and phenotyping data will be downloadable via the “wheat rust Toolbox”, and disseminated via histograms and graphic maps at a European level or according to the global context: country, year, region. Alerts will be sent via, and via the press and social media. 

GEVES is a task leader within WP3, contributing to the early identification of new yellow rust virulence races, by using a harmonised differential host range in 63 sites of the European VCU network, with 20 institutes and 17 countries, including partners and stakeholders.  

These first indicators on the postulation of virulence present in the field will be verified with diagnostics based on molecular or phenotyping analyses at the seedling stage to identify yellow rust races. 

GEVES is also coordinating the European VCU network with the aim to reinforce the surveillance network and improve prediction of leaf rust races by INRA, and black rust by the University of Aarhus. 

GEVES is also actively participating in the other workpackages: WP2 on improving knowledge of specific resistance, and WP4 on diffusion of information amongst stakeholders in order to secure sustainability of activities beyond the project. 

The kick-off meeting took place from 6th to 8th June 2018 in Copenhagen in Denmark. 

For more information : 

Contact: Mogens S. Hovmøller, Global Rust Reference Center, Aarhus University,  AU Flakkebjerg, Forsøgsvej 14200, Slagelse. Danemark. E-Mail :  

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 773311  

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