Saturday October 01, 2016
Powerful microbe fights a crop fungus
Subsistence farmers in Africa and Asia have long reported that finger millet, a small cereal grain, is resistant to devastating fungus that typically sickens humans and affects livestock. But its close cousins, corn and wheat, easily succumb to it. In the process, billions of dollars worth of crops are lost in Canada and around the world.
Dr. Manish Raizada, associate professor in the Department of Plant Agriculture at the University of Guelph, has worked with subsistence farmers throughout Africa and Asia. This connection prompted him and a team of researchers to explore the inner workings of the hardy finger millet plant.
Raizada's lab has uncovered what might be a big part of this plant's success: a naturally occurring bacteria that have an unusual way of protecting their host from the fungus. And they think this beneficial bacteria can be transferred to related crops around the world.