Wheat plant infected with rust disease

Cereal rust research

Researching rust diseases since 1921
The University of Sydney’s Rust Laboratory seeks genetic solutions to control rust pathogens – among the most damaging pathogens of plants. Our goal is to deliver world class genetic protection from the cereal rust diseases to Australian winter cereal crops.

Our aim

Our work seeks to find genetic solutions to rust control in important plant species. For 100 years, we have monitored cereal rust pathogens throughout Australia, and have conducted fundamental world-class research to find and characterise new sources of rust resistance in cereals and investigate the molecular basis of plant resistance to rust fungi.

We assist Australian cereal breeding groups to incorporate rust resistance in new cultivars and promote stewardship of rust resistance genes by raising awareness of the importance of rust diseases in Australian cereal production and ensuring an ongoing skill-base in genetic control of these diseases.


The Rust Lab has a long and proud history of training postgraduate students from all over the world in rust and rust management. Since 2010, some 18 students have graduated with PhD degrees, conducting research programs on rust genetics in wheat, barley oat, and triticale, and on rust pathogen genomics. About half of these students are women.

We currently have 12 postgraduate students training with us, and we are especially keen to attract students with a passion for learning and a strong desire to contribute to the ongoing challenge of feeding the world in a changing environment.

Interested students should contact the Research Hub Coordinator: pbi.acrcp@sydney.edu.au

How we are protecting wheat crops from disease

A centenary of rust research at the University of Sydney

For over a century our scientists have helped wheat growers stay ahead in a genetic arms race against rust disease, caused by parasitic fungi that can wipe out entire crops.

Discover more about our enduring commitment to agricultural research and rich history of valuable contributions to the agriculture and food sector both nationally and globally.

Our team

  • Jennifer Le:   PhD research: Molecular interactions between Hordeum vulgare (barley) and Puccinia hordei (barley leaf rust): a focus on Rph3
  • Ching-Yu (Joey) Lu (scholarship holder)
    Thesis title: Genetic analysis of the oat crown rust pathogen Puccinia coronata f. sp. avenae and identification of candidate avirulence genes.
  • Alyssa Martino:   PhD research:  Development of a model system using Melaleuca quinquenervia to investigate the genetics of resistance to Austropuccinia psidii (myrtle rust).
  • Michael Norman – PhD research title:  Broadening the diversity of Rust Resistance in Wheat.
  • Xiaohui (Frank) Yu
    Thesis title: Rapid cloning of barley leaf rust resistance genes
  • Haixia Guan - PhD Research title: A chromosome-level, haplotype-phased genome assembly of Australian isolate of the oat crown rust fungus Puccinia coronata f. sp. avenae provides insights into comparative genomics in the cereal rusts

Mitigating the effects of stripe rust on wheat production in south Asia and eastern Africa

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Professor Robert Park

Director of Cereal Rust Research, Judith & David Coffey Chair of Sustainable Agriculture

General enquiries contact

Research Hub Coordinator

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