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Posted Thu May 27 2010: from IRIN:
Mutant wheat killer on the prowl
Just when scientists thought they had managed to curb a mutant fungus, Ug99, a variation of wheat stem rust, four new forms of the killer pathogen have surfaced in the last three years, posing a significant threat to the world's most consumed cereal. The newest mutation, or race, of Ug99 was discovered in 2009 in South Africa; another was found in the wheat-growing belt of South Africa's Western Cape Province in 2007, said Zak Pretorius, professor of plant pathology at University of the Free State.... The new mutations or "races" have acquired the ability to defeat two of the most important stem rust-resistant genes, used widely in most of the world's wheat breeding programmes. Singh said when the new race of Ug99 surfaced in Kenya, CIMMYT had to delay releasing new lines of wheat that had only one of the stem-rust resistant genes.
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