Ethyl-methanesulfonate mutagenesis generated diverse isolates of Puccinia striiformis f. sp. tritici, the wheat stripe rust pathogen

  • Yuxiang Li
  • Meinan Wang
  • Deven R. See
  • Xianming ChenEmail author
Original Paper


Puccinia striiformis f. sp. tritici (Pst) is an obligate biotrophic fungal pathogen causing stripe rust, one of the most important diseases of wheat worldwide. Mutation is considered as one of the major mechanisms causing virulence changes in the pathogen population, but experimental evidence is limited. To study the effect of mutation on pathogen variation, we developed 33 mutant isolates by treating urediniospores of Pst race PSTv-18, avirulent to all of the 18 Yr single-gene lines used to differentiate Pst races, with ethyl methanesulfonate (EMS). These isolates were characterized as 24 races, including 19 new races, through virulence testing on the set of 18 wheat Yr single-gene differential lines; and as 21 multi-locus genotypes with 19 simple sequence repeat and 48 single-nucleotide polymorphism markers. Most of the mutant isolates had more than one avirulence gene and more than one marker locus changed compared to the wild type isolate, indicating that EMS is able to cause mutations at multiple genome sites. The results showed that mutation can cause substantial changes in both avirulence and other genomic regions. The different frequencies of virulence among the mutant isolates suggested homozygous or heterozygous avirulence loci in the parental isolate, or relative ease of mutation at some avirulence loci. The results are useful for understanding evolutionary mechanisms of the important fungal pathogen.


Avirulence Mutation Puccinia striiformis f. sp. tritici Stripe rust Wheat Yellow rust 



This study was supported by the US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service (Project No. 2090-22000-018-00D), Washington Grain Commission (Projects 13C-3061-5682), Department of Plant Pathology, College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences, Agricultural Research Center, HATCH Project Number WNP00461 (13C-3061-4232), Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164-6430, USA. The China Scholarship Council scholarship to Yuxiang Li is highly appreciated.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.


Mention of trade names or commercial products in this publication is solely for the purpose of providing specific information and does not imply recommendation or endorsement by the U. S. Department of Agriculture. USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOC 574 KB)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Plant PathologyWashington State UniversityPullmanUSA
  2. 2.Wheat Health, Genetics, and Quality Research Unit, US Department of AgricultureAgricultural Research ServicePullmanUSA

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