Crop and Pasture Science Crop and Pasture Science Society
Plant sciences, sustainable farming systems and food quality

Puccinia striiformis in Australia: a review of the incursion, evolution, and adaptation of stripe rust in the period 1979–2006

C. R. Wellings

Plant Breeding Institute, The University of Sydney, Private Bag 11, Camden 2570, Australia (seconded from NSW Department Primary Industries). Email:

Australian Journal of Agricultural Research 58(6) 567-575
Submitted: 27 March 2007  Accepted: 21 May 2007   Published: 26 June 2007


The wheat stripe rust pathogen (Puccinia striiformis f. sp. tritici; Pst) was first detected in Australia in 1979. The features of the initial pathotype suggested that it was of European origin, and later work provided evidence that it was most likely transmitted as adherent spores on travellers’ clothing. Despite long-held views that this cool temperature pathogen would not adapt to Australian conditions, Pst became endemic and progressively adapted to commercial wheat production through step-wise mutation. Several of these mutant pathotypes became frequent in the Pst population, causing widespread infection and significant costs to production (yield and quality losses; chemical control expenditure) in certain cultivars and seasons. Pathotype evolution, including adaptation to native barley grass (Hordeum spp.) populations, is described.

The occurrence of an exotic pathotype of Pst in Western Australia in 2002, and its subsequent spread to eastern Australia, represented a major shift in the pathogen population. This pathotype dominated pathogen populations throughout Australia from 2003, with chemical control expenditure estimated at AU$40–90 million annually.

Another exotic introduction was detected in 1998. Initial data indicated that certain isolates collected from barley grass were highly avirulent to wheat differentials, with the exception of partial virulence to Chinese 166. Further seedling tests revealed that these isolates, tentatively designated barley grass stripe rust (BGYR), were virulent on several Australian barleys, notably those of Skiff parentage. Data, including molecular studies, suggest that BGYR is a new forma specialis of P. striiformis. Field nurseries indicate that BGYR is likely to have little impact on commercial barley, although this may change with further pathotype evolution or the release of susceptible cultivars.

Additional keywords: host specialisation, pathotype, epidemiology, pathogen population, mutation, selection.


Allison CC Isenbeck K 1930 Biologische specialisierung von Puccinia glumarum tritici Eriksson and Henning. Phytopatholgische Zeitschrift 2 87 98

Bariana HS McIntosh RA 1994 Characterisation and origin of rust and powdery mildew resistance genes in VPM1 wheat. Euphytica 76 53 61

Brennan JP , Murray GM (1998) ‘Economic importance of wheat diseases in Australia.’ (NSW Agriculture: Wagga Wagga)

Chen XM 2005 Epidemiology and control of stripe rust (Puccinia striiformis f. sp. tritici) on wheat. Canadian Journal of Plant Pathology 27 314 337

Dickinson MJ Wellings CR Pryor A 1990 Variation in the double-stranded RNA phenotype between and within different rust species. Canadian Journal of Botany 68 599 604

Dubin HJ Stubbs RW 1986 Epidemic spread of barley stripe rust in South America. Plant Disease 70 141 144

Eriksson J 1894 Ueber die spezialisierung des parasitismus bei den getreiderostpilzen. Berichte der deutschen Botanischen Gesellschaft 12 292 331

Holmes RJ Dennis JI 1985 Accessory hosts of wheat stripe rust in Victoria, Australia. Transactions of the British Mycological Society 85 159 160

Hovmøller M , Bayles R (2005) Recent history of cereal rust control in Europe. In ‘Global Landscapes in Cereal Rust Control’. Katoomba, Australia, 20–21 September 2005, Abstracts.

Hungerford CW Owens CE 1923 Specialized varieties of Puccinia glumarum and hosts for variety tritici. Journal of Agricultural Research 25 363 413

Johnson R Stubbs RW Fuchs E Chamberlain NH 1972 Nomenclature for physiological races of Puccinia striiformis infecting wheat. Transactions of the British Mycological Society 58 475 480

Keiper FJ Hayden MJ Park RF Wellings CR 2003 Molecular genetic variability of Australian isolates of five cereal rust pathogens. Mycological Research 107 545 556

Latch GCM 1976 Stripe rust, Puccinia striiformis f. sp. dactylidis on Dactylis glomerata in New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Agricultural Research 19 535 536

Line RF 2002 Stripe rust of wheat and barley in North America: a retrospective historical review. Annual Review of Phytopathology 40 75 118

Little R Manners JG 1969 Somatic recombination in yellow rust (Puccinia striiformis). I. The production and possible origin of two new physiological races. Transactions of the British Mycological Society 53 251 258

Luig NH (1985) Epidemiology in Australia and New Zealand. In ‘The Cereal rusts, Volume II diseases, distribution, epidemiology, and control’. (Eds AP Roelfs, WR Bushnell) pp. 301–328. (Academic Press: New York)

Manners JG 1960 Puccinia striiformis Westend. Var. dactylidis var. nov. Transactions of the British Mycological Society 43 65 68

Marshall D Sutton RL 1995 Epidemiology of stripe rust, virulence of Puccinia striiformis f. sp. hordei, and yield loss in barley. Plant Disease 79 732 737

McDonald DB McIntosh RA Wellings CR Singh RP Nelson JC 2004 Cytogenetical studies in wheat XIX. Location and linkage studies on gene Yr27 for resistance to stripe (yellow) rust. Euphytica 136 239 248

McIntosh RA , Wellings CR , Park RF (2005) ‘Wheat Rusts – An Atlas of Resistance Genes.’ (CSIRO Publications Australia)

Milus EA Seyran E McNew R 2006 Aggressiveness of Puccinia striiformis f. sp. tritici isolates in the South-Central United States. Plant Disease 90 847 852 doi:10.1094/PD-90-0847

Munoz J Felicisimo AM Cabezas F Burgaz AR Martinez I 2004 Wind as a long-distance dispersal vehicle in the southern hemisphere. Science 304 1144 1147 doi:10.1126/science.1095210

Nazari K (2006) Studies of the Wheat-Stripe Rust Pathosystem at Classical and Molecular Levels. PhD thesis, The University of Sydney, NSW, Australia.

O’Brien L Brown JS Young RM Pascoe I 1980 Occurrence and distribution of wheat stripe rust in Victoria and susceptibility of commercial wheat cultivars. Australasian Plant Pathology 9 14 doi:10.1071/APP9800014

Steele KA Humphreys E Wellings CR Dickinson MJ 2001 Support for stepwise mutation for pathogen evolution in Australasian Puccinia striiformis f. sp. tritici by use of molecular markers. Plant Pathology 50 174 180 doi:10.1046/j.1365-3059.2001.00558.x

Stubbs RW (1985) Stripe rust. In ‘The cereal rusts. Vol II Diseases, distribution, epidemiology, and control’. (Eds AP Roelfs, WR Bushnell) pp. 61–101. (Academic Press: New York)

Tollenaar H Houston BH 1967 A study of the epidemiology of stripe rust, Puccinia striiformis West. in California. Canadian Journal of Botany 45 291 307

Waterhouse WL 1936 Some observations on cereal rust problems in Australia. Proceedings of the Linnaean Society of NSW 61 5 38

Watson IA , Butler FC (1984) ‘Wheat rust control in Australia: national conferences and other initiatives and developments.’ (The University of Sydney)

Watson IA De Sousa CNA 1983 Long distance transport of spores of Puccinia graminis tritici in the southern hemisphere. Proceedings of the Linnaean Society of NSW 106 311 321

Wellings CR (1986) Host : pathogen studies of wheat stripe rust in Australia. PhD thesis, The University of Sydney, NSW, Australia.

Wellings CR 1992 Resistance to stripe (yellow) rust in selected spring wheats. Vortrage fur Pflanzenzuchtung 24 273 275

Wellings CR Burdon JJ McIntosh RA Wallwork H Raman H Murray GM 2000 a A new variant in Puccinia striiformis causing stripe rust on barley and wild Hordeum in Australia. Plant Pathology 49 803

Wellings CR McIntosh RA 1990 Puccinia striiformis f. sp. tritici in Australasia: pathogenic changes during the first ten years. Plant Pathology 39 316 325 doi:10.1111/j.1365-3059.1990.tb02509.x

Wellings CR McIntosh RA Hussain M 1988 A new source of resistance to Puccinia striiformis f. sp. tritici in spring wheats (Triticum aestivum). Plant Breeding 100 88 96 doi:10.1111/j.1439-0523.1988.tb00222.x

Wellings CR McIntosh RA Walker J 1987 Puccinia striiformis f. sp. tritici in eastern Australia-possible means of entry and implications for plant quarantine. Plant Pathology 36 239 241 doi:10.1111/j.1365-3059.1987.tb02230.x

Wellings CR , Park RF (2006) Global perspectives in wheat yellow rust: meeting the challenges of dynamic shifts in pathogen populations. In ‘Third Regional Yellow Rust Workshop’. Tashkent, Uzbekistan, 9–10 June 2006.

Wellings CR , Read B , Moody D (2000 b) Stripe rust affecting barley in Australia—current and potential threats. In ‘Proceedings 8th International Barley Genetics Symposium’. Adelaide, Australia, September 2000. Vol III, pp. 197–199.

Wellings CR , Singh RP , McIntosh RA , Pretorius ZA (2004) The development and application of near isogenic lines for the wheat stripe (yellow) rust pathosystem. In ‘Proceedings of the 11th Cereal Rusts and Powdery Mildews Conference’. Norwich, UK, August 2004, p. 39.

Wellings CR Wright DG Keiper F Loughman R 2003 First detection of wheat stripe rust in Western Australia: evidence for a foreign incursion. Australasian Plant Pathology 32 321 322 doi:10.1071/AP03023

Zadoks JC 1961 Yellow rust of wheat: studies in epidemiology and physiologic specialization. Tijdschrift over Plantenziekten 67 69 256 doi:10.1007/BF01984044

Export Citation Cited By (85)