Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture has announced a two-year public-private partnership between Syngenta, the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and SFSA to rapidly identify and map genetic markers for use in wheat resistance breeding against Ug99 stem rust, a fungal disease which can cause devastating crop losses.
The foundation is funding the project, which will combine Syngenta's plant genetic profiling expertise with the strengths of CIMMYT's extensive field research to develop a genetic map of wheat stem rust resistance. The results from this project will contribute directly to the global efforts to combat stem rust, through the development of wheat varieties that can better resist the disease.
"The role of independent bodies such as the Syngenta Foundation is very important in overcoming the challenges presented in building much-needed public private partnerships for agricultural development," said Marco Ferroni, Executive Director of the SFSA. "We are very pleased to be the catalyst of this important collaboration that brings together complementary skills and addresses a pressing need of farmers in many developing countries."
Ug99 stem rust, which first emerged in Uganda in 1999, is caused by the fungus Puccinia graminis. It is currently spreading across Africa, Asia and the Middle East with potential to spread further, posing a serious risk to wheat, the world's third most important food crop.
"Along with rice, wheat is a major food crop and is crucial for global food security—it provides 500 kilocalories of food energy per capita per day in China and India, and can provide up to 50 percent of daily calorie uptake in Central and West Asia or North African countries," says CIMMYT Director General Thomas A. Lumpkin. "Wheat yields need to rise 1.6% each year to reach required global production levels by 2020, yet investments in wheat technology have lagged far behind those for other cereals. So we are very pleased to enter this new partnership."