Ireland’s blight and Puccinia update

Hyphoid logic points out that it is appropriate to discuss about the oomycete Phytophthora infestans on St. Patrick’s Day and mentions a NYT article “The fungus that conquered Europe” that is worth a look.

It is also worth thinking about another blight, well rust, that is spreading through the middle east and could threaten wheat crops worldwide. New Scientist has excellent coverage of Puccinia graminis strain Ug99 which is spreading faster than expected due to a cyclone that spread the rust spores into Iran two years earlier than expected.

Related posts from last year. “Fungus could cause a food shortage”, “Puccinia black stem rust disease spreading”

2 thoughts on “Ireland’s blight and Puccinia update”

  1. Jason, I am a little confused. From looking at molecular data, I had assumed that oomycetes are not fungi at all (but rather some kind of brown algae). However,you know much more about fungal evolution than I do, and if you say that phytophtora is a fungus….
    By the way, what is the difference between a ‘blight’ and a ‘rust’, apart from the fact that the latter can be observed on iron nails?

  2. Kay –
    You are absolutely correct – Oomycetes aren’t true fungi. This is misconception in the media but its basis is historical. Those who study oomycetes are still “mycologists” because of the historical paraphyletic grouping together of oomycetes with chytrids, and (so-called) “higher” fungi. I think it is also hard to explain to the general audience why a “water mold” is infecting a potato…

    “Blight” refers to the plant symptoms of the disease. “Rust” is the name for the group of fungi that have a particular lifecycle like Puccinia. They are most recognized by the rust spores found on the leaves. Francis has a great picture of Popular rust. The rusts are monphyletic – in that the rust form arose a single time. Rusts are Basidiomycetes (like mushrooms), but in a different major clade called the Urediniomycetes.

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