DOI: 10.1111/pbi.14106 ISSN: 1467-7644

Resistance that stacks up: engineering rust and mildew disease control in the cereal crops wheat and barley

Peter M. Dracatos, Jing Lu, Javier Sánchez‐Martín, Brande B.H. Wulff
  • Plant Science
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Biotechnology


Staying ahead of the arms race against rust and mildew diseases in cereal crops is essential to maintain and preserve food security. The methodological challenges associated with conventional resistance breeding are major bottlenecks for deploying resistance (R) genes in high‐yielding crop varieties. Advancements in our knowledge of plant genomes, structural mechanisms, innovations in bioinformatics, and improved plant transformation techniques have alleviated this bottleneck by permitting rapid gene isolation, functional studies, directed engineering of synthetic resistance and precise genome manipulation in elite crop cultivars. Most cloned cereal R genes encode canonical immune receptors which, on their own, are prone to being overcome through selection for resistance‐evading pathogenic strains. However, the increasingly large repertoire of cloned R genes permits multi‐gene stacking that, in principle, should provide longer‐lasting resistance. This review discusses how these genomics‐enabled developments are leading to new breeding and biotechnological opportunities to achieve durable rust and powdery mildew control in cereals.

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