500 scientists create top 10 list of plant-damaging fungi

Oct 18, 2012
This shows Botrytis cinerea. Credit: Jan A. L. van Kan

Almost 500 international experts have worked together to develop a ranking system of the ten most important phytopathogenic fungi on a scientific and economic level. The rice blast fungus (Magnaporthe oryzae) sits at the top of the list.

A survey conducted on 495 international researchers resulted in a list contaning the most important phytopathogenic fungi. Each researcher chose three that they thought to be most significant and the most voted then formed the list.

Said list has been published in the journal Molecular Plant Pathology and each one of the mentioned is analysed by an expert in the field. One of those experts is the Spaniard Antonio Di Pietro from the department of genetics in the University of Cordoba. He describes the fungus Fusarium oxysporum which sits in fifth place on the list.

"Most of the on the list attack cereals like rice, wheat and maize. This is logical considering the huge importance of these crops in world agriculture", explains Di Pietro.

"Nonetheless, it is important to highlight the presence of the fungi in second and fifth place on the list (Botrytis cinerea and Fusarium oxysporum, respectively). These are generalist, wide-ranging pathogens which can cause damage in more than one hundred different " the researcher adds.

Receiving almost double the votes of the second fungus, the first on the list is the rice blast fungus (Magnaporthe oryzae). Experts have highlighted the economic significance of this species as it can devastate which are the food base for 's population.

In second place is the fungus 'botrytis bunch rot' or 'grey mould' (Botrytis cinerea). This impacts in a variety of areas as it is a wide-ranging pathogen. It is also one of the few species on the list that also has a beneficial use due to its role in some stages of .

Threat to global agriculture

In third place are the species that include the genus Puccinia, which mainly affect wheat crops, whilst in fourth and fifth place are two species from the Fusarium genus (Fusarium graminearum and Fusarium oxysporum). The first of these mainly damages cereal plantations whilst the latter can affect very different crops such as tomato, cotton or banana.

Other cereal pathogens, namely Blumeria graminis and Mycosphaerella graminicola are in sixth and seventh place on the list.

In eighth place are species from the Colletotrichum genus which in particular affect plants with economic importance such as fruit and ornamental plants.

The corn smut fungus or huilacoche (Ustilago maydis) is an edible native to Mexico. This is in ninth place due to its scientific interest and not for its economic impact as it does not have particularly devastating effects. This species and that which sits in tenth place; Melampsora lini, have important uses in the study of the molecular bases of plant immunity and infection processes.

Di Pietro highlights that with this list "the authors are trying to inform the public about the importance of phytopathogenic fungi as they represent a growing threat to ".

Explore further: Hot-spring bacteria reveal ability to use far-red light for photosynthesis

More information: Ralph Dean, Jan A. L. Van Kan, Zacharias A. Pretorius, Kim E. Hammond-Kosack, Antonio Di Pietro, Pietro D. Spanu, Jason J. Rudd, Marty Dickman, Regine Kahmann, Jeff Ellis and Gary D. Foster. Molecular Plant Pathology. Volumen 13, mayo de 2012. DOI: 10.1111/J.1364-3703.2011.00783.X

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

With fungi on their side, rice plants grow to be big

Jun 10, 2010

By tinkering with a type of fungus that lives in association with plant roots, researchers have found a way to increase the growth of rice by an impressive margin. The so-called mycorrhizal fungi are found ...

New Danish fungal species discovered

Sep 04, 2012

A new fungal species, called Hebelomagriseopruinatum, has now officially been included in the list of species. The fungus, whose name can be translated into 'the grey-dewy tear leaf', was discovered on Zea ...

Examining rice genes for rice blast resistance

Oct 17, 2011

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists have characterized the molecular mechanism behind some plants' ability to resist rice blast, a fungal disease that affects cereal grain crops such as rice, wheat, rye and barley ...

Tomato stands firm in face of fungus

May 09, 2008

Scientists at the University of Amsterdam have discovered how to keep one’s tomatoes from wilting – the answer lies at the molecular level. The story of how the plant beat the pathogen, and what it means for combating ...

Recommended for you

Researchers discover new strategy germs use to invade cells

Aug 20, 2014

The hospital germ Pseudomonas aeruginosa wraps itself into the membrane of human cells: A team led by Dr. Thorsten Eierhoff and Junior Professor Dr. Winfried Römer from the Institute of Biology II, members of the Cluster ...

Progress in the fight against harmful fungi

Aug 20, 2014

A group of researchers at the Max F. Perutz Laboratories has created one of the three world's largest gene libraries for the Candida glabrata yeast, which is harmful to humans. Molecular analysis of the Candida ...

How steroid hormones enable plants to grow

Aug 19, 2014

Plants can adapt extremely quickly to changes in their environment. Hormones, chemical messengers that are activated in direct response to light and temperature stimuli help them achieve this. Plant steroid ...

Surviving the attack of killer microbes

Aug 19, 2014

The ability to find food and avoid predation dictates whether most organisms live to spread their genes to the next generation or die trying. But for some species of microbe, a unique virus changes the rules ...

User comments : 0