Deadly new wheat disease threatens Europe’s crops

An infection that struck wheat crops in Sicily last year is a new and unusually devastating strain of fungus, researchers say — and its spores may spread to infect this year’s harvests in Europe, the world’s largest wheat-producing region.

Last year, the stem rust destroyed tens of thousands of hectares of crops in Sicily. What’s particularly troubling, the researchers say, is that GRRC tests suggest the pathogen can infect dozens of laboratory-grown strains of wheat, including hardy varieties that are usually highly resistant to disease.

Adding further concern, the centres say that two new strains of another wheat disease, yellow rust, have been spotted over large areas for the first time — one in Europe and North Africa, and the other in East Africa and Central Asia.

— source nature.com By Shaoni Bhattacharya

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