TTTTF, a kind of stem rust, damages tens of thousands of hectares of crops in Sicily

21 February 2017  •  Author(s): Roy Manuell | Digital Editor

Existence of TTTTF, a kind of stem rust – named for the characteristic brownish stain it lays down as it destroys wheat leaves and stems – damaged tens of thousands hectares of crops in Sicily.


Tests suggests that the pathogen can infect dozens of laboratory-grown strains of wheat, including hardy varieties that are usually highly resistant to crop disease. Wheat rust, a devastating disease known as the “polio of agriculture”, has spread from Africa to South and Central Asia, the Middle East and Europe, with calamitous losses for the world’s second most important grain crop, after rice.

Adding further concern, two new strains of another wheat disease, yellow rust, have been spotted over large areas of Europe for the first time, causing severe wheat damage. Greater influx of crop pathogens has influenced breeders, scientists and agrochemical companies in Europe and all across the world to share diagnostic facilities and crucial information about potential outbreaks.

Producing resistant varieties, along with study of invasive crop species and early-warning system will provide farmers enough warning to monitor fields and apply fungicides. Timely action is crucial.

What are the other deadly crop diseases and what are the potential effects? Will developing resistant crops be the answer? 

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