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. It was easy to grow wheat and work on wheat rusts at Shimla throughout the year without much effort. 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 a scientific monograph 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, 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 three glasshouses and two poly houses having air conditioned facility, field area of about 2 acres for multiplication of seed, 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 the India and is custodian of all the pathotypes (127) of wheat and barley 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.
  • Evaluation of advance varietal trial (AVT)/breeder’s material of wheat and barley against the virulent pathotypes of all three rust 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 host as well as under cryo-preservation round the year.
  • Designing strategies for the management of wheat and barley rusts in India
  • Supply of rust nucleus inocula 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.

Salient achievements

Variability in wheat and barley rusts

            Variability in wheat and barley rusts is being monitored since 1930. More than 127 pathotypes have been identified in initial stages in different rust pathogens. Every year more than 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 45 years 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.

Predominant pathotypes of wheat rusts in India

Area Black Brown Yellow
Nilgiri hills 40A 77-9,77-5 I
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 46S119,110S119,46S117,238S119

Potential sources of rust resistance

More than 1000 advance lines/ breeder’s material are evaluated for rust resistance every year using more than different patho types 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 and Lr49; 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, Yr11, Yr12, Yr13, Yr14, Yr15, Yr16, YrSK, YrSP are resistant to brown, black and yellow rust, respectively.

Rust resistant genetic stocks and adult plant resistance

Developed and registered 26 rust resistant genetic stocks with ICAR-NBPGR, New Delhi. These carry diverse resistance genes against wheat rusts in agronomically acceptable background. Recently more than 150 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. Marker assisted selection technique has helped to validate the presence of Lr9, Lr19, Lr24, Lr26, Lr28 and Yr15 in host population. New marker was designed and developed for Yr10which 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 127 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 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

Decoding of the genomes of Puccinia spp

The station in collaboration with ICAR-NRCPB, New Delhi has successfully decoded the genome of fifteen pathotypes of Puccinia triticina and three pathotypes of P. striiformis. The genome sequence data of these pathotypes will improve the understanding of the dynamic nature of these pathogens, causing disease epidemics in various parts of the world including India.

Team of excellence and externally funded projects

The station has been a Team of Excellence under NATP between 1999-2005. The centre has completed five 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. Subhash C. Bhardwaj
Principal Scientist & In Charge,
ICAR- Indian Inst. of Wheat and Barley Research, Regional Station
Flowerdale, Shimla,Post Bag no.2, 171002, H.P.,India
Phone:+91772621978(O);+919418129900(Mob.); Fax:+911772620108
Alt. E,

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