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ARS Home » Midwest Area » St. Paul, Minnesota » Cereal Disease Lab » Research » Research Project #445066

Research Project: Development of Fusarium Head Blight Control Strategies to Support East African Agriculture

Location: Cereal Disease Lab

Project Number: 5062-21220-024-009-A
Project Type: Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Mar 1, 2024
End Date: Jun 30, 2024

1) Mycotoxin screening of 2022 and 2023 stored grains; 2) Identify etiology of FHB outbreaks in Kenya and Ethiopia. It remains unclear if the growing threat to wheat in Ethiopia and Kenya reflects a fundamental shift in the pathogen population, climate change, or the evolution of new virulent races. We will perform population genomics to clarify these questions; 3) Inform disease-control strategies through fungicide screening.

The overarching project approach is to sample broadly across FHB-infected cereal crops in to obtain FHB-associated pathogens that will be genomically screened to help determine the etiology of recent outbreaks and pathogenic factors contributing to virulence. Furthermore, screening of stored grains will help clarify the mycotoxigenic threat posed to human health and food security. Finally, screening of isolates against fungicides will help identify the efficacy of disease-control approaches. Screening of stored grains will be achieved by GC-MS analysis of extracts from processed flours. A large-scale isolation effort is necessary to identify the causal pathogens behind this outbreak. Isolates will be obtained from infected heads cultures on lab media. Resulting isolates will then be molecularly characterized by PCR and a subset will be whole-genome sequenced. Genomics will be used to compare African isolates to existing public data from global collections and to identify specific clades and ultimately genes associated with recent outbreaks. Isolates will also be screened for fungicide resistance using a panel of fungicides whose active ingredients are readily available in Ethiopia to help determine new disease-control strategies.