Modern Approaches to Enhancing Rust Resistance in Wheat Leading to Global Food Security

Amir Afzal, Sunbal Mushtaq, Aftab Ahmad, Muhammad Arsalan, Sair Sarwar, Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Hafiz Husnain Nawaz, Asad Abbas


Rust diseases pose significant threats to wheat production. The deployment of wheat cultivars endowed with rust resistance stands as the most potent strategy for effective rust management. This resistance is primarily inherited through Mendelian principles discovered in 1905, but traditional breeding methods are time-consuming. Modern strategies have emerged to develop rust-resistant wheat varieties efficiently. Marker-Assisted Selection (MAS) accelerates the breeding process through precise screening, bringing about a revolution in the creation of rust-resistant wheat varieties. Genetic engineering techniques allow the transfer of resistance genes from other species into susceptible crops, but GMO use remains controversial and regulated. Gene editing, especially with CRISPR-Cas9, is a game-changer, enabling the introduction of natural variations or inactivation of critical genes in rust pathogens, enhancing plant resistance. RNA interference (RNAi) is another promising strategy, using small RNA molecules to inhibit rust pathogen gene expression, reducing disease severity. Induced Systemic Resistance (ISR) primes plant immune systems by treating them with beneficial microorganisms or compounds, fortifying them against subsequent rust infections. Eco-friendly biofungicides with antagonistic microorganisms suppress rust infections as alternatives to chemical fungicides. The development of climate-resilient wheat varieties is essential, as they indirectly enhance rust resistance, ensuring stable production amid changing climate conditions. These efforts to improve wheat productivity and rust resistance are crucial for feeding the growing global population. Integrating modern methods with traditional breeding is key to effectively combatting rust diseases and enhancing food security.


Wheat Rusts; Wheat Breeding; Rust Resistance; Marker Assisted Selection; Gene Engineering Techniques; Gene Editing.

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