Wheat, the most important food crop, is threatened by a blast disease pandemic. Now a new study, conducted by an international team of researchers collaborating across five continents, proves the origin of the wheat blast pandemics, and shows that it’s one lineage in particular that is wreaking havoc. The genome analyses also provide valuable information for future disease management strategies for this particular clonal lineage of wheat blast.
Wheat blast was first reported in South America in 1985 and caused varying degrees of losses in yield (weather dependent). But the unexpected spread in 2016 to Bangladesh and the 2018 spread to Zambia has been alarming and led to it being classified a pandemic. The study, published in PLOS Biology, also highlights two potential ways to control the disease, using either the resistance gene Rmg8 gene in wheat or the strobilurin class of fungicide, and argues that concerted action will be needed to contain its spread.
The scientists presented their research and the head of The Sainsbury Laboratory argued that the world needs to sit up and learn the lessons of the Covid-19 pandemic and ensure we are prepared for this coming crisis.
Professor Sophien Kamoun FRS, Group Leader at The Sainsbury Laboratory, University of East Anglia; Norwich Research Park, Norwich, UK.
Dr Hernán A. Burbano Roa, Associate Professor of Ancient Plant Genomics, Centre for Life’s Origins and Evolution, Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment, University College London; London, UK.
Dr Tofazzal Islam FBAS, Professor and Director at the Institute of Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Agricultural University; Gazipur, Bangladesh.
Professor Nick Talbot FRS, Executive Director and Group Leader at The Sainsbury Laboratory, University of East Anglia; Norwich Research Park, Norwich, UK.