Regional Station, Shimla

ICAR-Indian Institute of wheat and Barley Research
Regional Station, Shimla-171002: Profile

The research work on wheat and barley rusts in India was initiated by Late Rai Bahadur, Dr. Karam Chand Mehta (Prof. of Botany, Agra College, Agra) in the year 1922-23. Dr. Mehta’s interest in rusts got aroused while working with Prof. F.T. Brookes, Fellow Royal Society in the 3rd decade of twentieth century in United Kingdom. He explored three locations (Shimla, Almora and Murree (now in Pakistan) other than Agra for carrying out wheat rust research and found Shimla (Rust Research Laboratory, Flowerdale) as the most suitable place. It was easy to grow wheat and work on the wheat rusts at Shimla throughout the year without much efforts. Ultimately the wheat and barley rust research laboratory, Flowerdale, Shimla came into existence in 1930. Initially he continued with the research work for a period of nearly seven years at his personal expenses. With the financial aid from Imperial (now Indian) Council of Agricultural Research, he further strengthened the rust research program. He published his research findings in several reputed journals and also wrote two scientific monographs titled “Further studies on cereal rusts in India” Vol I and II in 1940 and 1952, respectively.

After his demise (1950), the station was taken over by the ICAR-Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi under the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Govt. of India. Subsequently, the station became the part of ICAR-Directorate of Wheat Research at Karnal on April 1, 1991 and now ICAR-Indian Institute of Wheat and Barley Research since November, 2014.

Location and climate

The Regional Station located at Flowerdale, Chotta Shimla, at latitude 31.088 and longitude 77.186, spreads over a 3.6 acre land. The climate is cool with an altitude of 2000 m AMSL and well distributed rainfall of about 1425 mm per annum. The average minimum and maximum temperature varies from 15 to 280C in summer and 0 to 160C in winter.


Presently, this station has twelve glasshouses/polyhouses with six glasshouses and two poly houses having temperature control facility, field area of about 2 acres for multiplication of seed and testing experimental wheat material

Glass house and Polyhouse facilities at the station

The station has a small well equipped laboratory for molecular biology related works. Ultra deep freezer (-800C) and Liquid nitrogen (-1960C) facilities are also available for the long term storage of rust inocula. The station has full-fledged facility to look after pathotyping in wheat and barley rusts, evaluation of germplasm, characterization of rust resistance genes, inheritance studies, molecular biology work, supply of nucleus inocula elsewhere in India and is custodian of all the pathotypes (150) of wheat, barley, oat and linseed rusts identified since 1930. At present black/stem rust of wheat and barley ( Puccinia graminis f. sp. tritici), brown/ leaf rust of wheat ( P. triticina) and yellow/stripe rust of wheat (P. striiformis f. sp. tritici) yellow rust of barley (P. striiformis f. sp. hordei), and brown /leaf rust of barley ( P. hordei) are the main focus of research. In addition cultures of crown rust of oat (P. coronata f. sp. avenae), black /stem rust of oat ( P. graminis f. sp. avenae) and Linseed rust (Melampsora lini) are also being maintained.

Sphere of Work

  • Monitoring variability in wheat and barley rusts in India and neighboring countries and identify new virulences, if any in initial stages and resistance sources to new pathotypes.
  • Evaluation of advance varietal trial (AVT)/breeder’s material of wheat and barley against the virulent pathotypes of all three rusts to identify rust resistance sources.
  • Postulating rust resistance genes in advance wheat lines by applying gene matching technique.
  • Develop rust resistant genetic stocks, study the genetics of rust resistance, adult plant resistance, slow rusting etc.
  • Studies on pathogen’s population dynamics and host-pathogen interaction at molecular level.
  • Maintenance of rust pathotypes in pure form on living hosts as well as under cryo-preservation round the year.
  • Designing strategies for the management of wheat and barley rusts in India
  • Supply of nucleus inocula of rusts to wheat/barley scientists in the country for resistance evaluation and genetic studies.
  • Conducting and coordinating Wheat Disease Monitoring Nursery (WDMN) (erstwhile Trap Plot Nursery) and SAARC wheat disease monitoring nursery in India and neighbouring countries

Salient Achievements

Variability in wheat and barley rusts

Variability in wheat and barley rusts is being monitored since 1930. More than 150 pathotypes have been identified in initial stages in different rust pathogens. Every year about 1500 samples of wheat and barley rusts are pathotyped. This information helps in deployment of resistant cultivars based on pathotype distribution in different wheat growing areas of the country as a wheat rust management strategy. There has been no major wheat and barley rust epidemic reported during last five decades due to the deployment of diverse resistant cultivars in different wheat growing ecological zones of the country. Possible epiphytotics of yellow rust of wheat between 2010-2016 in North West Plains Zone could be averted by promoting the cultivation of a group of varieties with varied resistance, awareness among farmers, coordinated and concerted efforts of ICAR, SAUs and State department of Agriculture. Consequently successful management of wheat rusts has helped in a net saving of about 10 million tonnes of wheat every year.

Predominant pathotypes of wheat rusts in India

Area Black Brown Yellow
Nilgiri hills 40A 77-9,77-5
Peninsular India 11 104-2,77-9
Central India 40A 104-2,77-9,77-5
Eastern India 21A-2 77-5
Northern India 21-1, 21A-2 77-5,104-2 46S119,110S119, 238S119

Potential sources of rust resistance

More than 1000 advance lines/ breeder’s material are evaluated for rust resistance every year using more than 70 different pathotypes of wheat and barley rusts. More than 500 lines holding rust resistance have been identified during the years

Black (A) and yellow rust (B) resistance screening in wheat at seedling stage

Characterization of rust resistance genes

Information on the genetics of rust resistance of all the pipeline material has been generated at the center. Brown rust resistance of Indian wheat is based on Lr1, Lr3, Lr9, Lr10, Lr13, Lr14a, Lr17, Lr18, Lr19, Lr22, Lr23, Lr24, Lr26, Lr28, Lr34, Lr46, Lr49 and Lr67; black rust on Sr2, Sr5, Sr6, Sr7a, Sr 7b, Sr 8a, Sr 8b, Sr 9b,Sr 9e, Sr11, Sr12, Sr13, Sr17, Sr21, Sr24, Sr25, Sr30 and Sr31 whereas yellow rust on Yr2, YrA, Yr9 and Yr18. Presently Lr24, Lr25, Lr29, Lr32, Lr39, Lr45, Lr47 ; Sr26, Sr27, Sr31, Sr32, Sr33, Sr35, Sr39, Sr40, Sr43 and SrTt3 and Yr5, Yr10, Yr13, Yr14, Yr15, Yr16, and YrSP are resistant to brown, black and yellow rust, respectively.

Rust resistant genetic stocks and adult plant resistance

Developed and registered 55 rust resistant genetic stocks with ICAR-NBPGR, New Delhi. These carry diverse resistance genes against wheat rusts in agronomically acceptable background. More than 250 lines with adult plant resistance to one or more pathotypes of rusts were also identified.

Black (A) and yellow rust (B) resistance screening in wheat at adult plant stage

 Molecular studies

Recently, the variability among the 49 pathotypes of brown rust has been observed at DNA level using SSR markers. DNA fingerprints have been generated for all the pathotypes of three rusts of wheat.Marker assisted selection technique has helped to validate the presence of Lr9, Lr19, Lr24, Lr26, Lr28,Lr34, Lr46, Lr67,Lr68; Sr2, Sr28 and Yr15 in host population. New marker was designed and developed for Yr10, which confers resistance to yellow rust of wheat in India. Molecular basis of Lr24 mediated leaf rust resistance in wheat to Puccinia triticina pathotype 77-5 has

Allelic pattern among Puccinia triticina pathotypes with SSR marker TATTG-60

recently been deciphered through quantitative real time PCR analysis. Further studies are being undertaken to work out the molecular bases of host pathogen interaction and see how it can be explored in strategic management of wheat rusts in general.

Maintenance of national repository of wheat and barley rust pathotypes

Pathotypes of different rust pathogen are being maintained since 1930. At present 150 pathotypes of different rust pathogens are being maintained on living hosts and also under ultra low temperature conditions (Liquid N2).

Supply of nucleus inocula of rust pathogens and seeds

For facilitating genetic as well as epidemiological work, the nucleus as well as bulk inocula of different rust pathogens and seed material are supplied to about 45 different wheat scientists/centres every year elsewhere in the country.

Conducting of Wheat Disease Monitoring Nurseries

Wheat disease monitoring nursery (WDMN) (earlier trap plot nursery) is an effective tool for monitoring the occurrence of wheat diseases especially rusts across different wheat growing zones of India. Additionally, it helps in knowing the seasonal progress of the diseases in all the zones. The nursery also helps in understanding the area wise progress of wheat diseases and the performance of different disease resistance genes. Currently the WDMN is being planted at about 50 strategic locations across, covering all the major wheat growing areas in the country, especially those situated near the bordering areas to the neighboring countries. SAARC-WDMN is also being conducted in six SAARC nations viz., India, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan.

Wheat rust genome sequenced

Under DBT funded projects at different centres, decoded the genomes of a highly variable Race77 and its 13 pathotypes and a stable Race 106. Race106 was first identified in 1930 and preserved in the National collection at Shimla and did not mutate during the past, whereas race 77 was first detected in 1954 from Pusa (Bihar) evolved into thirteen biotypes affecting wheat breeding programme in the country. Therefore, it was very important to understand the molecular mechanism for virulence and adaptability within Race77, and unravelling the molecular basis of its fast evolution and stability of race 106 genome. In collaboration with ICARNRCPB, Next generation sequencing (NGS) technology was used to decode the genomes of 15 strains (~1500 MB data) of Puccinia triticina. A high quality draft genome (~100Mb) sequence of Race 77 with 33X genome coverage and predicted 27678 protein coding genes responsible for various functions was generated. Genome wide comparative analysis revealed that P. triticina genome is 37.49 % and 39.99% repetitive in case of Race77 and Race106, respectively and Race77 substantially differs from Race106 at segmental duplication (SD), repeat elements and SNP/InDel levels. We found certain “host spot regions” in the genomes of Race 77 which are vulnerable for reshuffling, leading to variability in it. This study provides an insight about P. triticina, with emphasis on the genome structure, organization, molecular basis of variation and pathogenicity. This genome information will be an important landmark research in India and will facilitate wheat improvement programme in the country. Similar information has been generated for 4 pathotypes each of Puccinia graminis tritici and P. striiformis.

Team of excellence and externally funded projects

The station has been a Team of Excellence under NATP between 1999-2005. The centre has completed seven externally funded projects from ICAR, DBT and other agencies, whereas three DBT and one ICAR projects are in place.


The station publishes one six monthly newsletter (Mehtaensis), named after the founder of the station, with latest information on wheat rusts situation in India and neighboring countries. Research publications are being published regularly in high impact journals.


The centre has collaborative experimentation with ICAR Institutes, State Agricultural Universities, BARC, Mumbai, CIMMYT, Mexico and Plant Breeding Institute, Cobbetty, Australia.

For more details, please contact:

Dr. Om P. Gangwar
Sr. Scientist & In Charge
ICAR-Indian Institute of Wheat and Barley Research, Regional Station
Flowerdale, Shimla, Post Bag No.2, 171002, H.P., India
Phone: +91-772621978(O); +91-8894540552(Mob.)
Mail: ;

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