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8th International Wheat Conference and BGRI meeting, St. Petersburg, Russia

Some 600 scientists from 77 wheat-producing nations gathered in the historic city of St. Petersburg for the 8th International Wheat Conference (IWC), 01-04 June 2010. The IWC is held every five years, the last conference taking place in La Plata, Argentina, in 2005. Opening sessions included a presentation by Hans-Joachim Braun, director, Global Wheat Program. The famous Vavilov Institute—one of the oldest and most comprehensive collections of germplasm—was also the focus of the introductory papers. CIMMYT was very well-represented, with presentations in different sessions by Tom Lumpkin, Susan Dreisigacker, Matthew Reynolds, Ivan Ortiz-Monasterio, Tom Payne, and retired CIMMYT wheat agronomist Ken Sayre, as well as poster presentations from many other global wheat program staff. “Every major wheat-producing country was represented and there was a strong private sector presence,” says Braun. “This really showed that wheat is back on the research agenda.”

Scientists join to combat new threat to world wheat crop.

Just prior to the IWC, leading wheat experts from Australia, Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas gathered for two days in St. Petersburg to address the threat of four new mutations of Ug99 wheat stem rust which are virulent against two important stem rust-resistance genes—SR24 and SR36—used widely in the world’s wheat breeding programs. “Most wheat varieties of the world are vulnerable to the original form of Ug99,” says CIMMYT distinguished scientist Ravi Singh. “We will now have to make sure that every new wheat variety we release has resistance to both Ug99 and the new races.” Participants included specialists from CIMMYT, the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), and the Borlaug Global Rust Initiative (BGRI), which organized the event.