Pathogenomic analysis of wheat yellow rust lineages detects seasonal variation and host specificity
Recent disease outbreaks caused by (re-)emerging plant pathogens have been associated with expansions in pathogen geographic distribution and increased virulence. For example, in the past two decades’ wheat yellow (stripe) rust, Puccinia striiformis f. sp. tritici, has seen the emergence of new races that are adapted to warmer temperatures, have expanded virulence profiles, and are more aggressive than previous races, leading to wide-scale epidemics. Here, we used field-based genotyping to generate high-resolution data on P. striiformis genetics and carried out global population analysis. We also undertook comparative analysis of the 2014 and 2013 UK populations and assessed the temporal dynamics and host specificity of distinct pathogen genotypes. Our analysis revealed that P. striiformis lineages recently detected in Europe are extremely diverse and in fact similar to globally dispersed populations. In addition, we identified a considerable shift in the UK P. striiformis population structure including the first identification of one infamous race known as Kranich. Next, by establishing the genotype of both the pathogen and host within a single infected field sample, we uncovered evidence for varietal specificity for genetic groups of P. striiformis. Finally, we found potential seasonal specificity for certain genotypes of the pathogen with several lineages identified only in samples collected in late spring and into the summer, whereas one lineage was identified throughout the wheat growing season. Our discovery of which wheat varieties are susceptible to which specific P. striiformis isolates, and when those isolates are prevalent throughout the year, represents a powerful tool for disease management.