Field pathogenomics


Wheat yellow rust caused by the fungus Puccinia striiformis f. sp tritici is a substantial threat to wheat production worldwide and recently re-emerged as a major constraint on UK agriculture. The devastating impact of this disease gives a deep sense of urgency to breeders, farmers and end users to improve surveillance.

To address this, we recently developed a novel approach called “field pathogenomics” for pathogen population surveillance. This method, based on new gene sequencing technology, allows us to acquire data directly from field samples of rust-infected wheat. The overall aim of this large international BBSRC-funded project is to apply gene-sequencing technology to the surveillance of yellow rust and undertake comprehensive global population genetic analyses of this important plant pathogen, working in collaboration with our industrial partners (HGCA, RAGT, Agrii, Limagrain, KWS, BASF and Syngenta).

This work is being conducted in close coordination with the UK Cereal Pathogen Virulence Survey (UKCPVS) led by project partners Sarah Holdgate and Jane Thomas at NIAB. The UKCPVS acts to monitor changes in virulence of UK cereal pathogen populations using traditional virulence tests. Details on how to submit samples to UKCPVS can be found here. You can also find more information about the UKCPVS at:

Our new approach enables the integration of high-resolution genotypic data into pathogen surveillance activities that is vital to improve our understanding of the genetic sub-structure within a population. This project aims to equip the UK with the latest genomic tools, facilitate more efficient varietal development by breeders, and help reduce the environmental and economic costs associated with fungicide applications, all of which will have a positive impact on the overall competitiveness and sustainability of the UK arable industry.

All the information and sequence obtained will be made public and you’ll be able to track your samples and compared them with others that have arrived from across the UK and beyond through our interactive map (click HERE).

If you would like to get involved in this research or have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at