ARS Scientists Discover Reason Pathogen Threatens Wheat Supply

Fungus is able to adapt using sexual recombination.

Published on: Jun 2, 2010

Agricultural Research Service Scientists in Minnesota have discovered the reason a pathogen threatening the world's wheat supply is so diverse and adaptable. The fungus causing stripe rust may use sexual recombination to adapt to wheat resistant varieties.

The sexual recombination of the fungus produces a genetic mix more likely to pass along traits that improve the chances for survival when on Barberry. This new information is expected to lead to better control of Barberry in areas where cool temperatures during the wheat-growing season make stripe rust a threat.

During the study, which began last year, researchers looked at infected Barberry leaves, treated them to promote the release of spores and exposed them to wheat. Within 10 days, tests showed the wheat plants were infected.