Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Karnal bunt struggles to spread without large numbers


Luckily for us, the economically devastating Karnal bunt fungus needs personal ads and singles bars more than we do.

Airborne spores from the fungus, which damages wheat crops, are limited in how well they can start new infections over long distances, according to the findings from a Kansas State University project.

A phenomenon known as the Allee effect occurs when a small population of a species spread over a large area has little success in reproduction. The reason is that when individuals are dispersed over a wide area, it becomes difficult to find a mate. Like male and female humans, each Karnal bunt spore has something similar to a gender, and must find a spore with a different gender to reproduce. Karnal bunt has a larger spore that can reproduce on its own, but is heavier and less likely to be blown over long distances. It is the bunt’s lighter, airborne spore that needs a mate.

Small populations of the Karnal bunt pathogen are therefore expected to decline, instead of grow.

"If there is an Allee effect, as there is with this fungus, it makes it harder for a population to get over that hump to be a viable population. It makes it harder for the Karnal bunt pathogen to invade," said Karen Garrett, assistant professor of plant pathology at K-State. "With this fungus, the population needs a critical mass to function well."

Garrett is working on the Allee research with Robert Bowden, U.S. Department of Agriculture research plant pathologist. The results of their work will be presented at the Ecological Society of America’s meeting in Tucson, Ariz., Aug. 4 to 9.

The research is good news for farmers in the U.S. Many countries have trade barriers against areas that are infested with Karnal bunt. Some regions in Arizona and Texas, where the pathogen has been found, cannot export wheat to those countries. Such a ban would be devastating in a state like Kansas, where wheat growers heavily depend on exports. Garrett said the results of the study may influence how trade officials in other countries regard the risk of Karnal bunt to their own wheat industry.

"That’s part of why there is so much interest in the invasive potential of this pathogen," Garrett said.

Karnal bunt has little effect on the amount of wheat that a crop can produce, but it does affect its quality. Wheat infected with Karnal bunt tends to have a fishy odor and may have an unpleasant taste.

Garrett and Bowden described the Allee effect for Karnal bunt after running mathematical models. Garrett noted that some aspects of the life cycle of the Karnal bunt pathogen are not well understood, so their results will need to be adjusted as new research becomes available.

"We’re making some assumptions to come up with particular risk estimates, but it is clear that this requirement to find another mating type will reduce the Karnal bunt pathogen’s potential as an invasive species," Garrett said.

Garrett and Bowden received funding for work with plant disease epidemics from the National Science Foundation and the Kansas State Agricultural Experiment Station. Their work will be published in the journal Phytopathology.

Karen Garrett | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht “How trees coexist” – new findings from biodiversity research published in Nature Communications
21.03.2018 | Technische Universität Dresden

nachricht Earlier flowering of modern winter wheat cultivars
20.03.2018 | Georg-August-Universität Göttingen

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

New 4-D printer could reshape the world we live in

21.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

21.03.2018 | Trade Fair News

Physicists made crystal lattice from polaritons

20.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>