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Wheat Blast

News & Events

Wheat Blast Detected in Kentucky in 2011

A recent press release from the University of Kentucky (UK) indicated that wheat blast was detected in a university research plot in 2011. It was discovered on a single wheat plant by a UK soil scientist. A sample was brought to the the UK Plant Diagnostic Lab where a preliminary diagnosis determined that it was blast. Samples were forwarded to the USDA APHIS PPQ lab in Beltsville, Maryland where the diagnosis was confirmed. Subsequent genetic analysis of the pathogen determined that the strain in Kentucky emerged from rye-grass and was unrelated to the wheat blast populations that occur in South America.  Surveys of the area failed to detect any additional wheat blast. Research is underway to learn more about this newly emerged population of the wheat blast pathogen.

Wheat Blast Discussed at 2012 NCERA 184 Meeting

As a result of the growing awareness about Wheat Blast as a potential threat to U.S. and global wheat production, Wheat Blast was on the agenda at the recent NCERA 184 meeting in Memphis, Tennessee. NCERA is a multi-state extension and research community that provides a platform to facilitate cooperation and coordination among scientists with interests in diseases of small grains. Dr. Gary Peterson of the USDA Agricultural Research Service discussed his experience with wheat blast in Brazil and the cooperative research program underway in the U.S. to address this emerging disease threat. 

Jose Mauricio Fernandes Visits K-State

Dr. Jose Mauricio Fernandes, a wheat disease specialist with EMBRAPA in Passo Fundo, Brazil and an Adjunct Professor at Universidade de Passo Fundo, is visiting K-State this week (March 26-30, 2012). Maruicio, an expert with wheat blast and Fusarium head blight, is meeting with the U.S. Wheat Blast Team to discuss a stronger research collaboration and to share his vast experience with wheat blast in Brazil. Dr. Gary Peterson, a member of the Wheat Blast Team from the USDA ARS Foreign Disease Laboratory in Fort Detrick, Maryland, is also visiting K-State to participate in the meetings. Dr. Fernandes developed a widely used wheat blast forecasting model for Brazilian farmers. K-State's Department of Plant Pathology is hosting Mauricio where he will present a seminar on Thursday, March 29 at 4:00 PM. The subject of his seminar will be the epidemiology and forecast modeling of wheat diseases in Brazil. Dr. Fernandes's seminar is open to the public.

Wheat Blast Team Submits Proposal to Continue Research

An expanded Wheat Blast Team, under the leadership of Dr. Barbara Valent, submitted a new five year, $5.5 million proposal to the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture to continue the research project begun in 2009. Dr. Valent has assembled an impressive array of experts from Kansas State University, the Ohio State University, the University of Kentucky, the University of Arkansas, North Carolina State University, and EMBRAPA in Brazil. If funded, the new project will include research efforts on both wheat blast and the related disease rice blast, allowing for comparative epidemiology and comparative genomics analysis. Intended outputs include validated disease forecasting models and deployment strategies for blast resistance genes.


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