“It is invisible to the naked eye, and can travel hundred kilometres a day destroying nearly everything in its path” … the deadly mutant making news headlines has nothing to see with the merciless Predator, its nickname is UG99 (TTKSK), alias P graminis f. sp. tritici, a basidiomycetous fungal pathogen from the Pucciniales clade. Two new forms of Ug99 able to overcome the effects of wheat resistance genes have been detected in South Africa. The discovery of these new variants marks the first time that the stem rust fungus with virulence against crucial defense resistance mechanisms (it overcome the effects of the resistance genes Sr31 and Sr24) has moved south of its origins in Uganda in East Africa. Epidemiologists now worry that next stop of the deadly journey of this wind-borne cereal-killer may be the wheat fields, the breadbaskets of the Middle East and South Asia.
To know more about the stem rust threathening world food supply :
- Nature News
- Red Menace: Stop the Ug99 Fungus Before Its Spores Bring Starvation
- listen Dr Ronnie Coffman from Cornell University: Wheat rust: ‘cereal killer’ in Kenya
- The Daily Telegraph: Mutant fungus Ug99 threatens global wheat
- Puccinia Group Database at Broad Institute
- Puccinia graminis var. triticis: download genome assembly and gene catalog at the Broad:
- Wheat Rusts: An Atlas of Resistance Genes – an amazing compendium of resistance phenotypes at Borlaug Global Rust Initiative
- … and while reading these papers/posts play loudly ‘Rust Never Sleeps‘ and enjoy your crusty (last?) ‘baguette’.
Photo: Another rust, the poplar foliar rust (© B Pêtre – INRA).