According to bloggers Claire Poore and Mallowa Sally, “one of the biggest threats to global wheat supply is the disease wheat stem rust. This fungal disease dates to the Roman Empire. Infections can be seen by spots on the stem and leaves that have rust-colored powdery spores in them. These spots affect the plant by reducing the plant’s ability to photosynthesize. This reduces the number and size of the wheat kernels.”
While the disease is managed by the development of resistant varieties, every few decades a new strain appears that the currently grown varieties do not have resistance to. In 1999 a new fast-spreading strain of the fungus was detected in Uganda called Ug99. It devastated yields and reduced the milling quality of the grain. Rust spores can travel long distances, spreading the disease quickly throughout Africa and the Middle East. Currently, it threatens to wipe out more than 80% of existing varieties. Food security in developing countries is largely dependent on wheat.
To learn more about other diseases affecting breakfast foods such as coffee, orange juice and bananas, read the entire blog:
About us: This blog is sponsored and written by members of the American Society of Agronomy and Crop Science Society of America. Our members are researchers and trained, certified, professionals in the areas of growing our world’s food supply while protecting our environment. We work at universities, government research facilities, and private businesses across the United States and the world.
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