Leaf rust of barley is caused by the macrocyclic, heteroecious rust pathogen Puccinia hordei, with aecia reported from selected species of the genera Ornithogalum, Leopoldia, and Dipcadi, and uredinia and telia occurring on Hordeum vulgare, H. vulgare ssp. spontaneum, Hordeum bulbosum, and Hordeum murinum, on which distinct parasitic specialization occurs. Although Puccinia hordei is sporadic in its occurrence, it is probably the most common and widely distributed rust disease of barley. Leaf rust has increased in importance in recent decades in temperate barley-growing regions, presumably because of more intensive agricultural practices. Although total crop loss does not occur, under epidemic conditions yield reductions of up to 62% have been reported in susceptible varieties. Leaf rust is primarily controlled by the use of resistant cultivars, and, to date, 21 seedling resistance genes and two adult plant resistance (APR) genes have been identified. Virulence has been detected for most seedling resistance genes but is unknown for the APR genes Rph20 and Rph23. Other potentially new sources of APR have been reported, and additivity has been described for some of these resistances. Approaches to achieving durable resistance to leaf rust in barley are discussed.
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