April 29, 2016

29/04/2016: Nature: Devastating wheat fungus appears in Asia for first time

http://www.nature.com/news/devastating-wheat-fungus-appears-in-asia-for-first-time-1.19820
Image: CIAT
Fields are ablaze in Bangladesh, as farmers struggle to contain Asia’s first outbreak of a fungal disease that periodically devastates crops in South America, Ewen Callaway writes in Nature.

Plant pathologists warn that wheat blast could spread to other parts of south and southeast Asia, and are hurrying to trace its origins.

“It’s important to know what the strain is,” says Sophien Kamoun, a biologist at the Sainsbury Laboratory in Norwich, UK, who has created a website, Open Wheat Blast, to encourage researchers to share data.

Efforts are also under way to find wheat genes that confer resistance to the disease.

First detected in February and confirmed with genome sequencing by Kamoun’s lab this month, the wheat-blast outbreak has already caused the loss of more than 15,000 hectares of crops in Bangladesh.

“It’s really an explosive, devastating disease,” says plant pathologist Barbara Valent of Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas.

“It’s really critical that it be controlled in Bangladesh.”

Read the full article in Nature HERE.
 

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