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Fourth International Master Class: soil-borne pathogens of wheat

turkey2The Fourth International Soil-Borne Pathogens of Wheat Master Class was hosted at ANADOLU Research Institute in Eskisehir in Turkey from 20 June to 03 July 2010, coordinated by CIMMYT nematologist Julie Nicol. Previous courses in the series were held in Turkey in 2003, China in 2005, and Tunisia in 2008. There were 25 participants, from West Asia (Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, and Iraq), North Africa (Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria), Australia, and the USA. Teaching staff included the leading scientists Timothy Paulitz (from the USA), Ian Riley, and Stephen Neate (both from Australia), as well as local Turkish experts and CIMMYT and ICARDA scientists. The course involved a series of lectures combined with field and laboratory practicals focusing on the most important soil-borne pathogens (SBPs) of wheat, particularly those affecting rainfed wheat production systems.

SBPs are microscopic root-rotting fungi and cereal nematodes that live in the soil and attack the root and crowns of wheat plants. Above-ground symptoms are difficult to diagnose, and are easily confused with other ailments such as nutrient deficiencies. They are particularly problematic in rainfed systems where post-anthesis drought stress is common. The most important pathogens in such systems are cereal cyst nematode (Heterodera spp.), the root lesion nematodes (Pratylenchus thornei and P. neglectus), and the crown and root rotting fungi, including Bipolaris sorokinana and several species of Fusarium. Since many of these cropping systems are dominated by cereal monocultures, the key means of control is host genetic resistance. However, where possible integrated pest management options, such as rotation with non-hosts, should be employed.

Many of the participants are already actively working on SBPs and the course offered them the opportunity to gain further knowledge, share experiences, and establish strong collaborative networks for future research. Special thanks are due to the key donors, including The Crawford Fund Australia, GRDC Australia, USAID, ACIAR, Syngenta, TAGEM, CIMMYT, ICARDA, and The Kirkhouse Trust. For further information: Julie Nicol (j.nicol@cgiar.org).