Scientists from the University of Delaware, USA, have recently uncovered critical information about the effect that deadly rice blast fungus has on rice plants, which could lead to more effective effective control measures in the fight against this disease. The team found that Magnaporthe grisea, the fungus responsible for rice blast, causes an increase in the production of abscisic acid in the plant on infection. Abscisic acid is a stress hormone usually released during times of drought to prevent the plant from losing water through holes in its leaves. However, it has been found that this hormone also causes a reduction in the disease fighting mechanisms of the plant.
The first factsheet of the month for 2016 ‘Blast in Paddy‘ contains information on the current methods of control used to manage rice blast in rice, or paddy as it is sometimes known. This Pest Management Decision guide was written by Mr G. Sudhakar from the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF), India.
Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including Theni banana farmers in Tamil Nadu adopting more efficient production techniques, why GM crops have been slow to take hold in Africa and the bio slurry pellet method of rice cultivation that could save farmers time and money.
We’ve selected a few of the latest new geographic, host and species records for plant pests and diseases from CAB Abstracts. Records this fortnight include the first report of Alternaria leaf blight disease on oil palm in Thailand, caused by Alternaria longipes, the detection of a virus affecting chilli pepper in Chihuahua, Mexico and the association of Papaya leaf curl virus with the leaf curl disease of grain amaranth in India.
India is one of the world’s largest producers of sugarcane which is used in many food and drink products. Sugarcane is vulnerable to a variety of pests, including sugarcane woolly aphids which caused a 30% yield loss in the outbreak of 2002. This pest is constrained to south and east Asia, (see the Plantwise distribution map). The aphids are covered in a woolly coating and are often mistaken for mealybugs. They deposit honeydew on the leaves which allows sooty mould to develop. This interrupts the plant’s ability to photosynthesise and so results in a weaker plant with a reduced yield.
To find out more about sugarcane woolly aphids and their management, read this month’s Plantwise Factsheet for Farmers which was written by a senior scientist from M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) in India. This factsheet is also available in Tamil.
Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including native ants helping to improve cocoa yields in Indonesia, unseasonal rains affecting crops in India and local mangoes in the Philippines declared free from mango seed weevil.
Over the past year, the Plantwise Knowledge Bank team has been conducting an e-plant clinic pilot in Kenya. Following the success of this pilot, we are now seeing if we can apply the lessons learnt in Kenya to other Plantwise countries. In December, we travelled to Thanjavur city, in the state of Tamil Nadu, India, to work with our in-country partners, the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF), on a mobile scoping workshop to better understand the requirements of such a pilot in India.
Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including Crops in Brazil still suffering after last year’s drought, the Malawi farmers advised to diversify their crops and the gene that affects nitrogen fixation and yield of soybean.