an article about the research in Agricultural Research.
Scientists Discover New Species
of Plant Fungi
By Ben Hardin
August 21, 2000
Researchers found 100 new species of the pathogenic plant fungus
Fusarium when they recently compared DNA from more than 3,000 strains
collected worldwide. The newly discovered species have left the scientists with
questions. Could these fungi survive in fields of U.S. grain? Should plant
breeding programs and quarantine programs take genetic information about these
fungi into account?
Some Fusarium species cause stalk rot and ear rot in corn. In wheat
and barley, they cause head blight or scab. Infected grain is unsuitable for
food or livestock feed, if it contains certain levels of fungal toxins.
In greenhouse tests, eight of the new species, mostly of exotic origin,
produced scab disease in wheat.
The Agricultural Research Service
scientists who researched the Fusarium species at the
National Center for Agricultural
Utilization Research in Peoria, Ill., collaborated with colleagues from
North Dakota State
University in Fargo and the ARS Cereal
Rust Laboratory in St. Paul, Minn. The species are part of an 80,000-strain
collection of agriculturally and industrially important microorganisms
maintained in the ARS Culture
Collection in Peoria.
The scientists say three of the scab-causing fungi may be native to Africa,
two to South and Central America, one to New Zealand and one to Asia. The
eighth scab-causing fungi is widespread and may be native to North America.
An article about the research appears in the August issue of Agricultural Research magazine.
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief research agency.
Scientific contact: Kerry L. ODonnell, ARS National Center for
Agricultural Utilization Research, Peoria, Ill., phone (309) 681-6383, fax
(309) 681-6672, firstname.lastname@example.org.