The Regional Cereal Rust Research Center in the Aegean Agricultural Research Institute in Izmir is a partnership between the Turkish Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock, and ICARDA. It was established in 2012 in response to calls by many countries in the region for enhanced regional cooperation on Stripe Rust monitoring systems and capacity building on crop breeding for stripe rust resistance. New facilities are now under construction.
The Center provides countries with scientific expertise and services to identify and track wheat rust diseases:
- Analysis of rust samples sent by countries
- Identifying specific rust races and their virulence to specific varieties of wheat
- Screening of wheat varieties sent by countries, for resistance to rust types
- Advice on wheat varieties that best resist rust diseases in specific agro-climatic conditions
The Rust Center is currently evaluating some 16,000 wheat types received from countries around the world to determine their levels of resistance and susceptibility to different forms of rust. The data and findings of these evaluations are used by partners to improve the effectiveness of national and international breeding programs that develop durable resistant wheat varieties.
A recently established laboratory will assist in the utilization of molecular markers for the development of rust-resistant cultivars and help improve understanding of the pathogenic variability of rust races.
Another important feature of the Center is the bio-safety facility, being built to world standards that can safely receive plant and disease materials from the region and worldwide for screening and evaluation. The Center will work with the foreign isolates of three wheat rusts: Stripe rust, Stem rust, and Leaf rust.
Additional facilities and services include a new planter that will facilitate and expand the precise planting of large numbers of wheat genotypes for field assessments, and the provision of seedling assessments of wheat rust resistance in commercial cultivars and breeding germplasms.
The Center is located in Izmir, Turkey, at the cent of the ‘wheat belt’ – linking Southern, East, and North Africa with West, Central, and South Asia – that produces more than 30 percent of the world’s wheat. Turkey’s Mediterranean climate that predominates provides optimal conditions for the evaluation of regional and international plant genetic materials against races of the three wheat rusts.
Scientists and agricultural specialists are working to more effectively monitor, track, and combat the spread of wheat rust diseases. Early detection and well-organized reporting are the keys to better managing and reducing wheat rust in regions at risk.
This is where the Regional Cereal Rust Research Center provides countries and national wheat breeding programs with strategic support – helping farmers, policymakers, and national agricultural research and extension services to rapidly respond to outbreaks.