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Head Scab Research Gets Funding Boost

By Dawn Lyons-Johnson
January 22, 1998

Visit the Fusarium head scab web page at ARS' Cereal Disease Laboratory in St. Paul, Minn.

Armed with a half-million dollars in new research money, USDA's Agricultural Research Service will step up its attack against a grain fungus that costs growers millions in losses each year.

ARS will expand research at the Cereal Disease Laboratory at St. Paul, Minn., where scientists study fungal diseases of wheat and barley and develop resistant varieties. ARS will upgrade the lab's facilities, purchase new equipment and fund two new research positions within the lab.

Research will focus on both short-term and long-term solutions to head scab. This disease, caused by Fusarium graminearum, caused an estimated $2.6 billion in losses to wheat, rye, barley, and other cereal crops growers in the Great Plains and Midwest between 1991-1996.

ARS received two separate appropriations for head scab research in the appropriation signed by the president. The first appropriation of $500,000 will be distributed to universities cooperating with ARS on scab research. A second outlay of $450,000 will go directly to ARS' St. Paul lab.

At the St. Paul lab, scientists will take a closer look at the genetic makeup of the head scab fungus and how it spreads. They'll also expand work on developing crop varieties that can resist the fungus.

Scientific contact: Kurt Leonard, Cereal Disease Laboratory, St. Paul, Minn., phone (612) 625- 5768, fax (612) 649-5054;

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