Report links wheat blast pandemic on three continents | World Grain

Genetic analyses show that a destructive wheat blast fungus that travelled from South America to South East Asia is now established in Zambia under rain-fed conditions, according to a new report from The Sainsbury Laboratory.

Wheat blast, Magnaporthe oryzae, is a fungus with devastating implications for wheat crop. It was originally detected in Brazilian wheat fields in 1985 and quickly spread over most of the South American continent. In 2016, the first wheat blast pandemic beyond South America hit Bangladesh and officials had to destroy more than 15,000 hectares of crops to try and contain this virulent pathogen. Less than two years later, Zambian farmers were struck by the first wheat blast pandemic in Africa. Until now, there has been no confirmation if the same pathogen strain had spread to all three continents or if these pandemics were caused by endemic pathogens spreading from other grass species to wheat. 

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