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Review article2023Peer reviewedOpen access

Breeding Wheat for Powdery Mildew Resistance: Genetic Resources and Methodologies-A Review

Bapela, Theresa; Shimelis, Hussein; Terefe, Tarekegn; Bourras, Salim; Sanchez-Martin, Javier; Douchkov, Dimitar; Desiderio, Francesca; Tsilo, Toi John


Powdery mildew (PM) of wheat caused by Blumeria graminis f. sp. tritici is among the most important wheat diseases, causing significant yield and quality losses in many countries worldwide. Considerable progress has been made in resistance breeding to mitigate powdery mildew. Genetic host resistance employs either race-specific (qualitative) resistance, race-non-specific (quantitative), or a combination of both. Over recent decades, efforts to identify host resistance traits to powdery mildew have led to the discovery of over 240 genes and quantitative trait loci (QTLs) across all 21 wheat chromosomes. Sources of PM resistance in wheat include landraces, synthetic, cultivated, and wild species. The resistance identified in various genetic resources is transferred to the elite genetic background of a well-adapted cultivar with minimum linkage drag using advanced breeding and selection approaches. In this effort, wheat landraces have emerged as an important source of allelic and genetic diversity, which is highly valuable for developing new PM-resistant cultivars. However, most landraces have not been characterized for PM resistance, limiting their use in breeding programs. PM resistance is a polygenic trait; therefore, the degree of such resistance is mostly influenced by environmental conditions. Another challenge in breeding for PM resistance has been the lack of consistent disease pressure in multi-environment trials, which compromises phenotypic selection efficiency. It is therefore imperative to complement conventional breeding technologies with molecular breeding to improve selection efficiency. High-throughput genotyping techniques, based on chip array or sequencing, have increased the capacity to identify the genetic basis of PM resistance. However, developing PM-resistant cultivars is still challenging, and there is a need to harness the potential of new approaches to accelerate breeding progress. The main objective of this review is to describe the status of breeding for powdery mildew resistance, as well as the latest discoveries that offer novel ways to achieve durable PM resistance. Major topics discussed in the review include the genetic basis of PM resistance in wheat, available genetic resources for race-specific and adult-plant resistance to PM, important gene banks, and conventional and complimentary molecular breeding approaches, with an emphasis on marker-assisted selection (MAS).


adult-plant resistance; Blumeria graminis; marker-assisted selection; race-specific resistance; Triticum aestivum L

Published in

2023, Volume: 13, number: 4, article number: 1173
Publisher: MDPI

    Associated SLU-program

    SLU Plant Protection Network

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Genetics and Breeding
    Agricultural Science

    Publication identifier


    Permanent link to this page (URI)