Biotech Updates

Genomic Surveillance Identifies Emerging Wheat Disease Fungus

May 10, 2023

Genomic surveillance could help manage emerging crop diseases and identify traits for developing disease-resistant crops, according to a study conducted by researchers from the University College London (UCL) and an international team from four continents. The results of this study have been published in the open-access journal PLOS Biology.

The study highlights the threat to global wheat yields from pests and diseases which can be reduced by more than 20 percent. One of the emerging diseases of wheat crops worldwide is wheat blast, a fungal disease found in three continents. To better understand wheat blast and its origin and genetic makeup, researchers combined genome analyses and laboratory experiments where they determined the susceptibility of wheat varieties to wheat blast fungus, and also of wheat blast to fungicides.

The research team discovered that the recent emergence of wheat blast in Asia and Africa was caused by a single clonal lineage of the fungus, with outbreaks in Zambia and Bangladesh originating independently. They also found that wheat varieties carrying the Rmg8 gene were resistant to the fungal infection and that the fungus was sensitive to the fungicide strobilurin.

For more details, read the article in the UCL website.

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