Friendly fungus is found to protect against wheat scab

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

Field study in USA shows why food quality will suffer with rising CO2

A field test in the USA has demonstrated that elevated levels of carbon dioxide inhibit plants’ assimilation of nitrate into proteins. This is a sign that the nutritional quality of food crops is at risk as climate change intensifies.

The wheat field-test study was led by a University of California Davis plant scientist.

It was announced in a media statement from the university.

“Food quality is declining under the rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide that we are experiencing,” said lead author Arnold Bloom, a professor in the Department of Plant Sciences.

“Several explanations for this decline have been put forward, but this is the first study to demonstrate that elevated carbon dioxide inhibits the conversion of nitrate into protein in a field-grown crop,” he said.

The assimilation, or processing, of nitrogen plays a key role in the plant’s growth and productivity.

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