Cereal rusts, caused by obligate and biotrophic fungi in the genus , are important diseases that threaten world food security. With the recent discovery of alternate hosts for the stripe rust fungus (), all cereal rust fungi are now known to be heteroecious, requiring two distinct plant species serving as primary or alternate hosts to complete their sexual life cycle. The roles of the alternate hosts in disease epidemiology and pathogen variation vary greatly from species to species and from region to region because of different climatic and cropping conditions. We focus this review on rust fungi of small grains, mainly stripe rust, stem rust, leaf rust, and crown rust of wheat, barley, oat, rye, and triticale, with emphases on the contributions of alternate hosts to the development and management of rust diseases.


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