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Advanced training program in wheat improvement and pathology

Recognizing the current skill set required by wheat breeders, CIMMYT conducted the advanced training program ‘Wheat Improvement and Pathology’ during 15 August-15 September for 24 early- to mid-career scientists from North and East Africa, Asia, Europe, and South America. The course objective was to improve participants’ knowledge on wheat pathology and the latest wheat breeding technologies, and to understand how these are integrated with various scientific disciplines such as agronomy, statistics, physiology, biotechnology, GIS, and the social sciences. Another major focus of the course was to increase participants’ understanding of selection for durable and multiple disease resistance. The program was largely field-oriented, enabling participants to improve teamworking skills and gain confidence in conducting field experiments.

Hassam Momeni, an Iranian participant, felt the course allowed him to apply his knowledge during practical sessions in the field, as well as furthering it through lectures. “As I mainly work in the lab with different fungi, here I learnt new things about topics such as tan spot, septoria, and rust diseases,” he said.

Though most of the course was conducted at CIMMYT’s El Batán and Toluca field stations, participants also attended the 8th International Symposium on Mycosphaerella and Stagonospora Diseases of Cereals. Participant Samia Beraies from Tunisia found this part of the course especially useful as it gave her the chance to interact with other scientists and share information. “Having the chance to give a presentation in the Septoria Symposium was a good experience to present my research work and evaluate my results, whilst comparing my research with other work,” she said. Global wheat program associate director and head of pathology, Etienne Duveiller, emphasized how this advanced training program contributes to strengthening the links with experienced colleagues and partners in the national programs. “CIMMYT’s work would be irrelevant without the contribution from national programs, and this course is also an opportunity for CIMMYT scientists to receive an update from our partners in wheat research,” he said.

The course was coordinated by Amor Yahyaoui, with assistance from Laura Ruiz, Etienne Duveiller, and Eleuterio Dorantes. Thanks also go to the many members of staff who gave presentations and enabled the course to be such a success.