Stem rust resistance testing

In the Central Plains, fungal diseases have been virtually non-existent during the last two growing seasons. So how do we make progress fighting disease when there is no selection pressure out in the field?

Take it to the lab.

First, we propagate our favorite race of stem rust by infecting a highly-susceptible variety planted in ‘spreader trays.’ Pictured below is a high-yielding line that also excels at making lots of spores!

Next, we take those freshly produced spores and infect a tray of experimental lines that we’d like to test.

Here’s a close up of two different varieties grown side by side that express contrasting reactions.

Now we can take notes, separating the ‘wheat from the chaff.’

And for fun, we can tape samples to a piece of paper, take a picture, and share the joy of life’s diversity with our friends.

This is an example of off-season activities at the Wichita Research Station.

Regards –

Dean Wilson