USDA and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) broke ground this week on a state-of-the-art greenhouse in St. Paul, Minn., that will play a key role in expanding the U.S. capability to address the global threat of Ug99 and other plant rusts.
The greenhouse, which will be managed by USDA’s Cereal Disease Lab, is being funded through a collaborative agreement between USDA and USAID’s Feed the Future program. Research is an integral component of the broader Feed the Future initiative, which is dedicated to enhancing global food security.
The new lab will add capacity for work in the U.S. to deploy Ug99-resistant wheat varieties, which is centered at ARS locations in Raleigh, NC, and St. Paul, MN.
The groundbreaking occurred during the kick-off of the Borlaug Global Rust Initiative (BGRI) technical workshop on the University of Minnesota campus in St. Paul.
The BGRI is named in honor of the late Norman Borlaug, the father of the Green Revolution and a University of Minnesota graduate, and brings together researchers from USDA, international wheat research organization CIMMYT and other institutions around the world.
During the meeting, researchers from CIMMYT announced breakthroughs in their ability to combat Ug99 along with yellow rust and leaf rust by combining several minor resistance genes. These new varieties also showed yield increases of a reported 15%.
Researchers will now work to deploy this material so it can be further tested in locally-adapted varieties. Researchers estimate as much of 90% of varieties grown globally are susceptible to Ug99.