Archive for the ‘Fungi’ Category
Blight that caused Irish famine is destroying California tomatoes
Strains of the disease that caused the Great Famine in Ireland have been traced to tomato crops in the Salinas Valley, researchers have found. “It’s still a problem today,” said Frank Martin, a Salinas native and plant pathologist at the USDA, according to The Californian.com. “It hasn’t gone away.”
Although the Irish strain has since died out, both potato or late blight and tomato blight are caused by a fungus-like, single-celled microbe called Phytophthora infestans, which thrives in wet environments and produces long-lived spores that travel in the wind.
Wayne Gularte, a tomato farmer for Rincon Farms in Gonzales, said that he lost about half of his crop this year to tomato blight. Just a little rain or fog can create the perfect environment for an outbreak. Gularte says there are preventative sprays that protect the fruit before it rains, but once the blight sets in, there is nothing a farmer can do to save his crop.
Scientists believe the disease originated in Toluca Valley, Mexico. It traveled through the US in the 1800s and then jumped across the Atlantic Ocean to Europe in 1845. The organism that caused the Great Famine was a pandemic strain that spread throughout Europe and went extinct after potato breeding programs developed a tuber resistant to the organism.
The origin of modern strains is still unclear to researchers, although they do believe they also came from the US and then spread to Africa, Asia and South America. About 120 different species of Phytophthora exist. Farmers lose over $6 billion a year on damaged crops and fungicide costs, and tomato growers in the Salinas Valley feel the effects of the blight keenly.
Martin is currently working on developing tests that will rapidly detect Phytophthora infestans as well as other related organisms that cause plant diseases worldwide.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org on behalf of; grahame jackson <email@example.com>
June 5th, 2013
The Brazilian government’s Executive Commission for Cacao Farm Planning (Ceplac) is set to officially launch a biofungicide that targets witch’s broom, a disease that devastated crops in the state of Bahia during the 1990s.
The disease is caused by the fungus Moniliophthora perniciosa, which germinates via water and tends to spread during rain seasons, currently exists in Brazil, Panama and parts of the Caribbean.
On June 16, Ceplac will present the treatment Tricovab, developed by fermenting the a fungus called Trichoderma stromaticum which is antagonistic to Moniliophthora perniciosa.
“The fungus is colonized in grains of rice. When in contact with water that will be used for application, the fungus is ‘activated’ and, in plants, becomes the natural enemy of Moniliophthora perniciosa,” Cepec Cacao Research Center head Adonias de Castro said in a release.
The commission plans to distribute 10,240kg (22,575lbs) to growers who adapt to the recommended technological package. It is expected that 640 properties of 2ha each in size will take on the biofungicide, across 30 municipalities.
“Ceplac gives society an effective response to the issue of plant health, but more than that an environmentally friendly product provides an effective gain for farming and the environment,” Ceplac Bahia superintendent Juvenal Maynart said.
“It opens the possibility of increasing grower income with the highest possible productivity. All this will create more jobs in the field. With these factors assured, we will ensure the sustainability of cacao agribusiness.”
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Published in SciDev Net
by Naomi Antony
17 June 2011 | EN
‘Super varieties’ of wheat resistant to the deadly stem rust fungus Ug99 could replace wheat in affected areas in as little as two years — if farmers can be persuaded to adopt them, according to a wheat rust expert.
First discovered in Uganda some 13 years ago, Ug99 is increasingly virulent. It is spreading throughout East and Southern Africa, and spores have also reached as far afield as Iran and Yemen. Wheat breeders had been working on promising resistant varieties in Njoro, Kenya, in the hopes that one of them could combat the fungus.
Now they have bred new varieties with good resistance and with up to 15 per cent better yields than today’s varieties, said Ronnie Coffman, head of the Durable Rust Resistance in Wheat Project at Cornell University, United States.
The new varieties, developed by wheat breeding expert Ravi Singh and colleagues at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in Mexico, are resistant to both rusts. They were unveiled at the 2011 Borlaug Global Rust Initiative’s Technical Workshop in Minneapolis, United States, this week (13–16 June).
The varieties were developed by combining several plant resistance genes, which individually give low levels of resistance but when found together in the same plant make it more difficult for the Ug99 pathogen to unravel their combined defences, providing better resistance.
“We’re trying to raise awareness of these materials and convince farmers that they should adopt them before [wheat rust] grows endemic — especially in countries such as Ethiopia,” said Coffman.
Coffman said that the two most critical countries to tackle are Ethiopia and Yemen. However, as Yemen’s political unrest has impeded anti-wheat rust efforts — material recently sent to the country by CIMMYT perished in customs — breeders are initially focusing their efforts on Ethiopia.
“We believe that farmers in Ethiopia will accept the new varieties,” he said. “There is a major outbreak of yellow rust (stripe rust) there. It is not nearly as devastating as stem rust, but it’s significant and farmers want something resistant to it.
“These new varieties are resistant to both rusts so we’re hopeful that the incidence of yellow rust will cause them to accept the new varieties. Unless farmers have an incentive that they can see, they don’t tend to accept new varieties.”
He said that if the incentive works, the whole of Ethiopia could be growing resistant strains in just two years — and this same timetable could apply to the entire East African region. “But it’s a big if,” he added.
Singh said: “We need to see national governments making the investments in seed systems development, including seed production and distribution. In many areas there will need to be support and leadership from wealthy countries and international institutions to carry these innovations into farmers’ fields.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 10, 2011
Public Information: 202-712-4810
LUSAKA, Zambia – The United States announced today that it is committing $12 million for aflatoxin control in Africa. The announcement was made during the tenth annual Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum in Lusaka, Zambia. The funds will support the objective of the African-led Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa (PACA).
Dr. Julie Howard, Deputy Coordinator for Development for Feed the Future, confirmed the commitment during a plenary session on food security at the forum. “This investment will boost the PACA’s ability to mitigate the dangerous consequences aflatoxin presents to both consumers and to African economies,” said Howard. “Aflatoxin control is also paramount to ensuring global food security efforts are successful and sustainable, which is a major objective of Feed the Future.”
Scientifically known as Aspergillus flavus and commonly referred to as “killer maize,” aflatoxin is a highly poisonous cancer-causing toxin produced by a fungus, which, according to the United Nations, affects 25 percent of the world’s agricultural production. The fungus infects crops before harvest in the field and spreads as a result of poor drying and storage, particularly in maize and groundnuts, which are highly susceptible. An estimated 4.5 billion people in the developing world are chronically exposed to dangerous levels of aflatoxin through diet, which contributes to chronic health problems and food insecurity. Animals fed with contaminated feed have low productivity, while major agricultural commodities containing aflatoxin above permissible limits are often denied formal trade opportunities.
In response to the threat of aflatoxin in Africa, government, private sector and civil society leaders from across Africa endorsed a comprehensive, sub-Saharan-wide approach to aflatoxin control through the establishment of the PACA in March 2011 during the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program’s (CAADP) Partnership Platform. The PACA is focused on improving food security, public health, and trade in Africa and works through CAADP to raise awareness and create an effective regulatory environment; better coordinate existing efforts to control aflatoxin; and increase investments in agricultural extension, management, and scale up of effective mitigation activities.
This effort will draw upon the long history of the U.S. government research, including bio-control methods that have successfully prevented high levels of aflatoxin contamination in maize and peanuts in the United States and Nigeria, as well as crop management and post-harvest technology programs implemented across Africa.
The $12 million investment announced today will link directly with country-driven priorities to help countries sustainably transform their own agricultural systems, which is a key objective of Feed the Future, the U.S. global hunger and food security initiative. It will also leverage commitments from other donor and stakeholder groups to support PACA’s leadership in aflatoxin control.
Upon the announcement of the $12 million commitment, Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture of the African Union Commission, H. E. Mrs. Tumusiime Rhoda Peace, thanked the U.S. Government and other partners for their support of the PACA.
“The U.S. commitment will enable PACA to advance growth and prosperity in Africa,” she said. “This commitment, along with ongoing support from other important partners including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, signals that the global community recognizes the importance of aflatoxin control efforts on public health, nutrition and food security.”
Commissioner Peace also noted that African Union intends to support aflatoxin mitigation activities in collaboration with its Member States and Regional Economic Communities to spur healthier trade and consumption patterns within Africa. Two critical goals for African agriculture, she said, are to significantly increase production and supply of safe food staples within Africa and to explore new solutions for aflatoxin control to boost African Agriculture’s trade potential.
For more information about Feed the Future, please visit www.feedthefuture.gov
The Norman Borlaug Commemorative Research Initiative:
Leveraging U.S. Research to Reduce Hunger and Poverty
Investing in agricultural research today contributes to the growth and resilience of the food supply tomorrow. When combined with other agricultural investments, improved technologies and practices can meet the need to feed an ever growing global population with less land, less water and a less certain climate. The U.S. has a unique role as a leader in agricultural science and technology, spanning early support for the Green Revolution up through the application of modern biotechnology.
Under Feed the Future, research investments will focus on priorities that:
- Advance the Productivity Frontier: A focus on breeding and genetics of staple crops and livestock to address major production constraints of pests, diseases, drought, and other risks to small scale producers as well as reach into the future to enhance yield potential.
- Transform Production Systems: In priority geographic areas where the poor are concentrated, integrate global technology advances with applied research on conservation of soil and water resources, extension and market access opportunities. This means taking a systems research approach to “sustainable intensification” of key African and Asia production systems on which the poor and hungry depend, linking research advances to national partners and programs.
- Enhance Nutrition and Food Safety: A focus on increasing productivity of grain legumes, reducing mycotoxin contamination of staples, biofortification of staple crops and increasing availability of animal source foods to improve dietary diversity and health, particularly in women and children.
As part of Feed the Future‘s strategy to help achieve these three objectives, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will partner to create the Norman Borlaug Commemorative Research Initiative. The Borlaug Initiative will leverage one of the world’s largest public research systems, spanning the USDA’s research agencies, increasing its relevance and impact on problems and opportunities faced by smallholder farm families in Africa, Asia and Latin America. This expanded relationship will add to USAID’s partnerships with U.S. universities, the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, the private sector, and research organizations in developing countries.
The Borlaug Initiative envisions building on research supporting U.S. agriculture in a variety of ways. USAID will provide targeted support to USDA’s in-house research to enhance its benefits for achieving food security objectives in developing countries. USDA will realign some of its research investments in support of the strategy. Through its work with USDA’s research agencies, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, the Agricultural Research Service and the Economic Research Service, USAID will expand and deepen collaboration between USDA and U.S. university scientists with counterparts in developing countries. By building on both USDA’s in-house and competitive research programs, USAID and USDA will multiply our investments and bring the best of U.S. science and technology to bear on reducing hunger and poverty in support of the Feed the Future Initiative.
Stem-Rust Resistant Wheats in the Horn of Africa and South Asia: USAID and USDA have joined forces with international partners to address this emerging threat. With potential global losses of up to $9 billion/year from wheat stem rust, and susceptibility of 80% of wheat varieties currently grown, varieties of wheat that are resistant to stem rust are critical to food security across Ethiopia and parts of the Middle East and South Asia. New resistant varieties have been developed in collaboration with the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research Centers, and will soon be delivered throughout the region. Continued research is critical to ensure adaptation to additional countries at risk of an epidemic. U.S. farmers will also benefit from resistance identified by the research.
Eds. note: A workshop “IPM for Feed the Future” has been organized for Saturday, August 6, 5:30 -8:30 PM at the XVII IPPC/APS meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii. The objective of the workshop is to discuss the role of IPM in the U.S. government’s Feed the Future Intitiative. Speakers include a cast of world experts in the area of plant protection in international agricultural development. If you are coming to the Congress plan to arrive in Honolulu by early Saturday afternoon at the latest so that you can participate in this workshop which has significant relevance to the role of IPM in food security and mitigating global hunger.
Pestnet (http://www.pestnet.org): Free on-line Crop Protection and Quarantine Advisory Serviceby Grahame Jackson, Australia
Pestnet (http://www.pestnet.org) is a free on-line crop protection and quarantine advisory service with more than 1000 members. Run entirely by volunteers, it was first established in 1999 for the Pacific. In 2001 it expanded to south Asia, and in 2003 helped set up CariPestnet for the Carribean. It is now open to anyone worldwide to join. Today, PestNet members come from more than 80 countries.
PestNet was established to help overcome the problems experienced by crop protection specialists, extension workers and farmers in remote locations or where agricultural services are poorly established. Pestnet addresses the constraints that are associated with sustaining agriculture and forestry-based livelihoods, particularly when pests and diseases abound and there is no advice readily available. Without fast advice, crops may be lost, or worse still, invasive organisms may become firmly established so that eradication is no longer an option.
Using the Yahoo! Group firstname.lastname@example.org, PestNet responds to questions on pathogens and insect pests of plants, and weeds. It provides identifications on-line, and gives out pest and incursion alerts, plant protection news and contents of journals as they become available. Since its inception, crop protection specialists and practitioners have posted more than 7500 messages, with currently up to 100 messages being posted per month.
Messages posted to PestNet are first screened by one of its five moderators (located in Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, Thailand and Uganda) to ascertain the relevance of the content. Queries – often accompanied by an image of the problem – typically receive several answers within 24 hours; hence the service is a very fast means of providing information to remote places which by ‘normal’ means would take days if not weeks.
More recently, PestNet realized that it had accumulated a wealth of information, which it needed to safeguard and make available to a wider audience. Although the messages are archived on Yahoo!Groups, people have to join both PestNet and Yahoo, and then they have to search individual emails to get at the information. To make life easier, PestNet has gone through the archives, summarized the discussions and put these on the PestNet website for anyone to see (http://www.pestnet.org/Summaries/tabid/1100/Default.aspx). Periodically, the summaries are updated.
Over the years, PestNet has been supported by a number of agencies, and it is pleasing to record these in appreciation for their help. The Australian Government Overseas Aid Program (AusAID) provided support through the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry for leaflets, posters and the website; the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) gave funds to buy cameras and for PestNet to visit Pacific island countries to encourage people to join; and the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Co-operation ACP-EU (CTA) assisted with the establishment of CariPestNet, as well as summarising the archive of messages.
Finally, if you would like to help out, and join PestNet, please do so. We want to expand, and that means having more experts. All you have to do is send an email to email@example.com, saying who you are, what you do and the name of your organization. Hope to see you on-line!
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