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Winner of BGRI Gene Stewardship Award announced

A research team in Mexico has been awarded the BGRI Gene Stewardship Award for their groundbreaking work on wheat breeding.

This year’s Borlaug Global Rust Initiative (BGRI) Gene Stewardship Award recipients have been recognized for their innovative research tackling the global problem of wheat leaf rust.Led by Julio Huerta from the Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Forestales, Agrícolas y Pecuarias (INIFAP), members of the award-winning team include:

  • HĂ©ctor Eduardo Villaseñor Mir (cereal breeder)
  • RenĂ© Hortelano Santa Rosa (cereal breeder)
  • Eliel MartĂ­nez Cruz, (cereal chemist)
  • MarĂ­a Florencia RodrĂ­guez GarcĂ­a (cereal pathologist)
  • Ernesto SolĂ­s Moya (wheat breeder)
  • Jorge Iván Alvarado Padilla (wheat breeder)

The award recognizes the team’s long-term contribution to Mexican wheat cultivation and their efforts to expand impacts worldwide. They have released many varieties with resistance to leaf rust, which has led to the stabilization of the disease in bread wheat.

Presented annually, the award is bestowed upon a team of researchers serving a national breeding program or other nationally based institution. Winners receive an inscribed bronze statue of Norman Borlaug.

Huerta has been hosted by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in Mexico since the late 1990s.

Julio Huerta, wheat pathologist and recipient of the BGRI Gene Stewardship Award 2022, giving a talk to students introducing CIMMYT’s wheat breeding program. (Credit: CIMMYT)

BGRI Technical Workshop

Receiving the prize at the 2022 BGRI Technical Workshop on September 9, Huerta said, “The award means a recognition from the global rust scientific community for the hard work (flesh, mind, soul and spirit) over the years, carried with many colleagues around the world to keep rust disease under control.”

Alison Bentley, director of the Global Wheat Program, also participated in the event with a presentation on the connection between conflict and vulnerability in global food systems. She explored reasons why wheat has been dramatically impacted by the conflict in Ukraine and summarized the proposed response agenda by CIMMYT.