Thursday, May 27, 2010

Stem rust update

Remember this post last year about stem rust? Well, the problem has not gone away, and may in fact be getting worse:

Four new mutations of Ug99, a strain of a deadly wheat pathogen known as stem rust, have overcome existing sources of genetic resistance developed to safeguard the world's wheat crop. Leading wheat experts from Australia, Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas, who are in St. Petersburg, Russia for a global wheat event organized by the Borlaug Global Rust Initiative, said the evolving pathogen may pose an even greater threat to global wheat production than the original Ug99.

The new "races" have acquired the ability to defeat two of the most important stem rust-resistant genes, which are widely used in most of the world's wheat breeding programs.

"With the new mutations we are seeing, countries cannot afford to wait until rust 'bites' them," said Dr. Ravi Singh, distinguished senior scientist in plant genetics and pathology with the Mexico-based International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT). "The variant of Ug99 identified in Kenya, for example, went from first detection in trace amounts in one year to epidemic proportions the next year."

From here (h/t Zarkov in this Kitco thread).

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