A fungal tenant, of sorts, that lives inside wheat plants could get play a role in the fight against fusarium head blight (also known as scab), a costly disease of cereal crops worldwide.
Scientists with the Agricultural Research Service in Peoria, Illinois, are studying the fungal tenant for its potential to biologically control Fusarium graminearum, a harmful fungus that causes scab in not only wheat, but also barley, oats and other grain-producing crops.
Scab does its costly damage on two fronts: through reductions in grain yield and quality, which can fetch a lower selling price, as well as the fungus’s contamination of affected grains with vomitoxins, which can be harmful to humans and livestock. Wheat with vomitoxin levels above one milligram is unacceptable for human consumption. Continue reading