Wheat is grown worldwide in diverse geographical regions, environments, and production systems. Although many diseases and pests are known to reduce grain yield potential and quality, the three rusts and powdery mildew fungi have historically caused major crop losses and continue to remain economically important despite the widespread use of host resistance and fungicides. The evolution and fast spread of virulent and more aggressive race lineages of rust fungi have only worsened the situation. Fusarium head blight, leaf spotting diseases, and, more recently, wheat blast (in South America and Bangladesh) have become diseases of major importance in recent years largely because of intensive production systems, the expansion of conservation agriculture, undesirable crop rotations, or increased dependency on fungicides. High genetic diversity for race-specific and quantitative resistance is known for most diseases; their selection through phenotyping reinforced with molecular strategies offers great promise in achieving more durable resistance and enhancing global wheat productivity.


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