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Fusarium Head Blight research encompasses climate change factors

Ongoing Fusarium Head Blight research is being done to help wheat and barley growers.

Todd Ward, director of the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, Illinois tells Brownfield researcher Martha Vaughan discovered wheat grown under higher levels of carbon dioxide tends to grow quicker, dropping the protein content and overall quality. He says she then found that moderately resistant wheat lines have a greater response to higher CO2 levels which have been climbing in recent years.

“She is working with wheat breeders to identify germplasm that is both resistant to Fusarium Head Blight and resistant to the negative nutritional effects of higher CO2 levels so that we can have crops in the future that are resilient to climate change.”

He says some of their other scientists have identified beneficial microbes that can control the fungal disease in wheat and barley.

“They are currently working to further develop those microbes as an efficient biocontrol technology for use in the field that will increase both yields and harvested grain quality.”

Ward says the Peoria lab has done Fusarium Head Blight trials in their lab for a long time and have plans to continue research to control and potentially eradicate it.

Comments from an interview with Todd Ward

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