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Wheat blast threatens Asian agriculture

Wheat blast is a fungal disease and can cause tremendous losses in the crop. Scientists in the UK and Bangladesh have teamed up to find a solution by making genetic data available online.

Sciencedaily reports that the pathogen causing the disease was spotted in Bangladesh in February this year, its first report in Asia. Scientists fear that the pathogen could spread further to other wheat growing areas in South Asia.

The researchers are making raw genetic data for the wheat blast pathogen available on a new website www.wheatblast.net and inviting others to do the same. They hope that the genetic data will help determine whether the Bangladeshi wheat-infecting strain has evolved independently from local grass-infecting fungi or was somehow introduced into the country.

Read also: The extension publication "Identifying Wheat Diseases Affecting Heads and Grain" provides agricultural specialists and farmers needed information to identify wheat blast if it occurs in US fields.

"Genomic and post-genomic research should clarify the origin of the wheat strain and guide measures for disease management", according to the researchers.

Source: Sciencedaily

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