Landraces from mountainous regions of Switzerland are sources of important genes for stem rust resistance in barley

Brian J. Steffenson, Shyam Solanki, Robert S. Brueggeman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Stem rust, caused by Puccinia graminis f. sp. tritici, can be a serious disease problem of barley in some production areas of the world. Deployment of resistant cultivars is the best means for controlling the disease. In North America, stem rust of barley has been kept in check for more than 70 years through the widespread use of the resistance gene Rpg1, which was derived from a landrace collected in Switzerland. Rpg1 is effective against many, but not all races of P. graminis f. sp. tritici. With the threat of Rpg1-virulent races like TTKSK and QCCJB from Africa and North America, respectively, it is important that additional sources of stem rust resistance be identified in barley. Given that resistance was previously identified in germplasm from Switzerland, the primary objective of this study was to characterize a collection of Swiss barley landraces from the mountainous regions of canton Graubünden for their reaction to stem rust races TTKSK and QCCJB as well as HKHJC, which is diagnostic for detecting Rpg1. From the stem rust phenotyping of 73 barley landraces, we found a remarkably high frequency (>43 %) of resistance to the virulent P. graminis f. sp. tritici races of TTKSK and QCCJB. In nearly every case, this resistance was due to the rpg4/Rpg5 gene complex as determined by a molecular assay. Two landraces were also found to carry Rpg1 based on their diagnostic resistant reaction to race HKHJC and presence of an amplicon specific for the gene. These results demonstrate that landraces from the mountainous areas of eastern Switzerland are valuable sources of important resistance genes for protecting barley from the devastating disease of stem rust.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-33
Number of pages11
JournalAlpine Botany
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
BJS thanks Geert Kleijer for sharing the germplasm that initiated this study, Peer Schilperoord for his insightful knowledge of barley cultivation and agriculture in the mountainous regions of Graubünden and Markus Andres for his critical reading of the manuscript. Pablo Olivera, Stephanie Dahl, Tamas Szinyei and Matthew Martin provided excellent technical assistance for this study. This research was supported by the Lieberman-Okinow Endowment at the University of Minnesota; American Malting Barley Association; and United States Department of Agriculture–Agricultural Research Service Specific Cooperative Agreement: Development of Stem Rust Resistant Barley for the Upper Midwest, Agreement Number 58-3640-0-648.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, Swiss Botanical Society.


  • Barley
  • Disease resistance
  • Hordeum vulgare
  • Landraces
  • Puccinia graminis f. sp. tritici
  • Stem rust


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