The project would give priority to surveillance activities that maintain and improve established and successful core surveillance platforms for stem rust, with some inclusion of stripe rust. They would include: 1) maintaining and enhancing the information platform and core databases for tracking and monitoring wheat rust diseases; 2) delivering accurate and timely information on wheat rust diseases; 3) Expanding and enhancing national capacity to undertake disease surveillance; 4) completing targeted barberry surveillance in Ethiopia and Kenya; 5) characterizing pathogens through traditional race analyses in Ethiopian national laboratories and backstopped by ARIs; 6) Enhancing stem, yellow and leaf rust race analysis in Ethiopia; and 7) Expanding the use of molecular diagnostic tools. The project also would provide advanced warning of vulnerability to emerging rust races through enhanced host surveillance and linking breeding with pathology with an improved resistance knowledge base for released cultivars and advanced breeding materials.
Activities would include:
- maintaining and enhancing the information platform and core databases for tracking and monitoring wheat rust diseases;
- delivering accurate and timely information on wheat rust diseases;
- characterizing pathogens through traditional race analyses in Ethiopian national laboratories and backstopped by ARIs;
- expanding the use of molecular diagnostics and genotyping of stem rust in East Africa;
- determining host resistance of commercial cultivars and advanced lines;
- developing a vulnerability assessment tool.
More support will be required to address areas identified as priority gaps and national priorities from the previous DRRW project as well as to sustain the systems in place. Those key activities would include:
- expanding the existing surveillance and monitoring system to include other high priority wheat diseases (i.e., stripe rust, leaf rust, Septoria and spot blotch);
- expanding and enhancing national capacity to undertake disease surveillance and monitoring in East Africa and South Asia;
- completing targeted barberry surveillance in East Africa and South Asia;
- expanding the use of molecular diagnostics and genotyping of stem, stripe and leaf rust in East Africa and South Asia;
- enhancing host resistance determination and new marker development;
- conducting a feasibility study on the use of remote sensing for disease monitoring.
The project also would develop an advanced wheat rust early warning and forecasting system, using Ethiopia as a test case. Associated activities would be the development of a robust modeling and forecasting toolbox, development of a seasonal forecast system, establishment of an in-country central early warning/control unit, and messaging and capacity building for extension agents and farmers. Several activities are potentially appropriate for innovative funding approaches:
- advanced international training in stem and stripe rust race analysis, whereby participants would only qualify for selection based on demonstrated performance and commitment (e.g., sending viable samples and isolating rusts in national labs);
- strengthening the ICARDA Regional Rust Laboratory, Izmir, if operational race analysis and receipt of regional rust samples was demonstrated;
- completion of a pilot study on the use of remote sensing for disease detection, if the remote sensing feasibility study indicated viable methods and approaches.