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UDaily: UD research may lead to new control for devastating rice fungus

UDaily: UD research may lead to new control for devastating rice fungus

In a “clash of the microbes,” University of Delaware plant scientists are uncovering more clues critical to disarming a fungus that is the number one killer of rice plants. The findings, published in December in Frontiers in Plant Science and in Current Opinion in Plant Biology, may lead to a more effective control for Magnaporthe oryzae, the fungus that causes rice blast disease.

The studies were led by the laboratory of Harsh Bais, associate professor of plant and soil sciences in UD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. The first author of both research articles was graduate student Carla Spence. The co-authors included postdoctoral researcher Venkatachalam Laksmanan and Nicole Donofrio, associate professor of plant and soil sciences, in addition to Bais.

“Rice is a food the world relies on — it accounts for about one-fifth of all the calories humans consume,” says Bais. “So it’s critical to find ways to reduce the impact of rice blast disease, especially as global population is expected to exceed 9 billion by 2050, and the need for more food increases.”