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Wheat rust is a very fast spread in Europe, Africa and Asia, a fungal disease that can cause a 100% loss of harvest in vulnerable wheat species. Such predictions were made on the basis of two recent studies done by scientists in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

“Now more than ever it is important that specialists from international institutions and wheat-producing countries act together to stop the disease, which includes continuous monitoring, data sharing and development of emergency response plans to protect their farmers and farmers of neighboring countries”, The FAO pathoologist Fazil Dusunseli stated.

According to specialists monitoring, wheat rust has the ability to spread very quickly over a huge distance with the help of the wind. In case of untimely detection of the disease and the enterprise of the appropriate measures, it has the ability to turn a healthy harvest in just a few months before harvesting yellow leaves, dark trunks and shriveled grain. “Fungicides have all the chances to help reduce harm, but early detection and quick decision making of the problem have a decisive meaning, as well as integrated management strategies in the long term,” said FAO.

New types of wheat rust found in Europe, Africa, Central Asia

Wheat rust, belonging to a family of fungal diseases, and capable of causing a 100 percent loss in the yield of some vulnerable wheat varieties, is increasingly spreading throughout Europe, Africa and Asia. These findings were made on the basis of two new studies conducted by scientists in collaboration with FAO.

Reports published in the journal Nature after their publication by Aarhus University (Aarhus University) and the International Center for the Improvement of Corn and Wheat (CIMMYT) indicate the appearance of both yellow rust and stem rust in various regions of the world in 2016.

At the same time, well-known existing types of rust have spread in new countries, and research confirms the need for early detection and action to prevent major damage to the wheat crop, particularly in the Mediterranean basin.

Wheat is a source of food and livelihood for more than 1 billion people in developing countries. Only North and East Africa, the Middle East, West, Central and South Asia, which are highly vulnerable to rust, account for about 37 percent of world wheat production.

“New aggressive species of rust appeared at the moment when we work with international partners and help countries deal with existing species, so we need to quickly and thoroughly address this problem,” said FAO patologist Fazil Dusunseli. - And now, more than ever, it is important that experts from international institutions and wheat-producing countries act together. It is necessary to stop the disease, this includes continuous monitoring, sharing of data and developing plans to prevent emergency situations in order to protect both their farmers and those of neighboring countries. ”

Wheat rust is rapidly spreading over long distances with the help of wind. If she didn’t find it in time and didn’t take action, she could turn a healthy harvest into balls of yellow leaves, black stems and shriveled grains in just a few weeks.

Fungicides help reduce damage, but early detection and quick action are crucial, as are integrated long-term management strategies.

The Mediterranean is hardest hit by new races

On the Italian island of Sicily, a new type of stem rust pathogen called TTTTF struck several thousand hectares of durum wheat in 2016, triggering the largest outbreak of stem rust in Europe in recent decades. Experience with these species suggests that different wheat crops may be susceptible to a new species.

TTTTF is the last of the newly discovered types of stem rust. Researchers warn that without proper control, it may soon spread over long distances along the Mediterranean and Adriatic coasts.

Various countries in Africa, Central Asia and Europe, meanwhile, were struggling with new strains of yellow rust, never before seen on their fields.

Italy, Morocco and four Scandinavian countries witnessed the emergence of a completely new kind of yellow rust, which does not yet have a name. It is noteworthy that the new species is most common in Morocco and Sicily, where the threat of the appearance of yellow rust, until recently, was considered minimal. A preliminary analysis shows that the new type of dangerous fungus belongs to the family of aggressive and best adapted to high temperature strains than most others.

Wheat farmers in Ethiopia and Uzbekistan simultaneously fought yellow rust outbreaks of AF2012, another strain found in both countries in 2016 that seriously hit wheat production, especially in Ethiopia. AF2012 previously could only be found in Afghanistan, before it appeared in the Horn of Africa last year, where it destroyed tens of thousands of hectares of wheat.

“Preliminary estimates are worrying, but it is still unclear what the full impact of these new strains will be on different wheat varieties in the affected areas,” said Dusunseli. “This is what research institutes in these regions should work on in the coming months.”

FAO, in collaboration with its partners, is stepping up efforts to train rust specialists in the affected countries, increasing their ability to detect and manage new types of wheat rust.

With the appearance of new species, the old ones also continue to spread.

View of yellow rust Warrior (-), discovered on the radars of scientists in Northern Europe and Turkey a few years ago, continued its air raid in 2016, and is now widely represented in Europe and Western Asia.

While the Digalu wheat rust (TIFTTF) species continues to destroy wheat germ in Ethiopia, the most famous stem rust strain Ug99 is currently distributed in 13 countries. Moving northward from East Africa to the Middle East, it is able to influence many wheat varieties throughout the world as it continues to produce new variations. Most recently, it was discovered in Egypt, one of the largest wheat producers in the Middle East.

International cooperation needed

The results of the study of Aarhus University are based on a series of trainings jointly conducted in 2016 by the International Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA), Aarhus University, CIMMIT and FAO.

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