Plant Pathologists Collaborate Worldwide To Combat Sorghum Ergot

June 09, 1998

ST. PAUL, Minn., June 1, 1998 -- Sorghum, an extremely important cereal crop worldwide, has developed a serious enemy, ergot. This fungal disease has plant pathologists working intensely to accumulate information and develop strategies to combat the disease which can cause severe crop loss and economic hardship.

"Ergot is a serious disease primarily affecting the production of hybrid sorghum seed," says Ranajit Bandyopadhyay, plant pathologist with the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics, Patancheru, India, and a member of the American Phytopathological Society (APS). "In India, losses of 10 to 80% have been reported in hybrid seed production fields. In Zimbabwe, annual losses of 12 to 25% regularly result and, on occasion, total losses are realized. This is significant when you consider that sorghum is ranked fifth among the most important cereal crops of the world, providing an important component to diets in the form of unleavened breads, boiled porridge or gruel and malted beverages. It?s also a significant component in feed grain."

The United States first reported the disease in Texas in March of 1997. By October, it had spread throughout Texas and was recorded in Georgia, Kansas, Mississippi and Nebraska. The epidemic in the Americas began in Brazil in 1995, the first outside Asia and Africa. The disease quickly spread North to cover almost all countries where sorghum is grown in South America, Central America, the Caribbean and North America.

"One of the amazing characteristics of this disease is its propensity for rapid, uncontrollable spread," says Bandyopadhyay. "In Brazil, less than one month after the initial ergot sighting in 1995, the disease had spread over an area of more than 800,000 km square."

A research and education response to the threat of ergot is currently underway, involving scientists and agencies worldwide. "This cooperative effort reduces the risk of ergot introduction and provides controls that can rapidly be implemented as ergot is introduced," says Gary Odvody, plant pathologist at Texas A & M University and member of APS. "It's a time consuming process -- that is why global cooperation with fungicidal control, host-plant resistance and ecology of ergot is extremely important."

An ongoing interchange and the latest ergot research findings will be featured at the National Sorghum Ergot Conference, June 24-26, 1998 at the Omni Hotel, in Corpus Christi, Texas. For more information on this disease including color photographs, a detailed article on sorghum ergot and links to information on the conference visit the APS homepage at www.scisoc.org. The American Phytopathological Society is a professional scientific organization dedicated to the study and control of plant disease with more than 5,000 members worldwide.
-end-


American Phytopathological Society

Related Sorghum Articles from Brightsurf:

Research reveals infertile spikelets contribute to yield in sorghum and related grasses
A team of scientists at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, in laboratories led by Elizabeth (Toby) Kellogg PhD, member and Robert E.

Corn and other crops are not adapted to benefit from elevated carbon dioxide levels
Although rising carbon dioxide levels can boost plant growth, a new review from the University of Illinois shows that some crops, including corn, are adapted to a pre-industrial environment and cannot distribute their resources effectively to take advantage of extra CO2.

Extruded grains may be better for pigs
Extrusion is the norm in the pet and aqua feed industries, yet it remains unusual for swine feed in the United States.

Successful improvement of the catalytic activity of photosynthetic CO2 fixing enzyme Rubisco
A research group consisting of Associate Professor FUKAYAMA Hiroshi (Kobe University) and Professor MATSUMURA Hiroyoshi (Ritsumeikan University) et al. have succeeded in greatly increasing the catalytic activity of Rubisco, the enzyme which fixes carbon from CO2 in plant photosynthesis.

Improving protein digestibility in sorghum
Improving protein digestibility in sorghum

Flavonoids' presence in sorghum roots may lead to frost-resistant crop
Flavonoid compounds -- produced by the roots of some sorghum plants -- positively affect soil microorganisms, according to Penn State researchers, who suggest the discovery is an early step in developing a frost-resistant line of the valuable crop for North American farmers.

Water-saving alternative forage crops for Texas livestock
With increasing drought conditions in the Texas High Plains, researchers test sorghum and pearl millet as alternatives to corn.

Warming Midwest conditions may result in corn, soybean production moving north
If warming continues unabated in the Midwest, in 50 years we can expect the best conditions for corn and soybean production to have shifted from Iowa and Illinois to Minnesota and the Dakotas, according to Penn State researchers.

Overcoming carbon loss from farming in peatlands
Miscanthus, willow found as good biomass crops to add carbon to vulnerable soils.

Local genetic adaption helps sorghum crop hide from witchweed
Sorgum crops in areas where the parasite witchweed is common have locally adapted to have mutations in a particular gene, which helps the plant resist the parasite.

Read More: Sorghum News and Sorghum Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.