1a. Objectives (from AD-416):
Conduct at the Cereal Disease Lab (CDL) in St. Paul, Minnesota extensive research on race-type isolates of wheat stem rust from the developing world to better understand the virulence and spread of the disease in developing countries and to identify new sources of resistance and characterize breeding germplasm.
1b. Approach (from AD-416):
Increase CDL’s greenhouse capacity and development of increased analytic capacity by up to five-fold to analyze wheat stem rust over the next three years for this effort. The proposed new greenhouse capacity is essential to carry out research on foreign isolates of stem rust and other cereal rusts in a physically isolated facility from the existing greenhouse facility. This will prevent potential contamination. More importantly, this will increase our capacity for race-typing additional collections and increase our capacity for seedling tests in identifying new sources of resistance and in characterizing breeding germplasm. Although the actual number of samples may vary depending upon the scope of surveys in the targeted countries, we anticipate to race-type approximately 500 isolates (derived from ~100 collections) per season, a five-fold increase from the current capacity. We will commit 50% of the new capacity for race-typing samples from Pakistan and Afghanistan, two countries with very limited capacity for in-country race-typing. The remaining capacity will target samples from countries that are critical for monitoring the movement of Ug99 and for capturing the most virulence/genetic diversity of the pathogen. We will also utilize the facility to enhance our research efforts in identifying sources of virulence variations of the stem rust pathogen in eastern Africa. In particular, we will study the potential role of Berberis holstii in generating new races in stem rust and stripe rust pathogens in eastern Africa. This facility will increase our capacity sufficient enough to include seedling tests of breeding germplasm from specific countries, namely Pakistan and Afghanistan in order to facilitate their breeding efforts for Ug99-resistance.
3. Progress Report:
The initial focus of this effort is to construct a greenhouse at the ARS St. Paul Cereal Diseases Lab to increase the capacity for the lab to handle rust samples sent in from many of the USAID focal countries. The task order to hire the A&E firm was completed in early February 2012. A Project Design meeting was held in St. Paul at the Cereal Disease Lab followed by an initial space programming and design charrette meeting were held in late February. The latter meeting with ARS researchers determined the actual requirements for the greenhouse and head house addition. A 15% Design Report was submitted by the A&E on Mar. 20, 2012. Design review comments were provided by the end of March, and a review meeting to discuss and resolve the comments was held at the facility on April 15. Warranty and other issues related to a mechanical and electrical systems upgrade project at the facility arose at this time and were addressed. By the end of May, a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) was provided to the Contracting Officer by the Area Environmental Protection Specialist as the appropriate follow-on action to the Environmental Analysis developed for this project. The 35% Design package was submitted on June 6. Again, review comments developed by ARS were provided to the Architect-Engineer and a review meeting was held at the site on June 27. The review comments were discussed and resolved, the documents appropriately revised, and the final version of the Bridging Documents (project plans and technical specifications) were then received on July 27. Additional discussions were held with the ARS Biosafety Officer and National Program Leader for Plant Health, regarding the adequacy of present laboratory practices and facility features and of the new proposed facility features to provide the necessary containment for the Ug99 spores.