PMF IAS Current Affairs
PMF IAS Current Affairs
  • Context (DTE): Recent study established concerning link between climate change and wheat blast.
  • Currently, it affects 6.4 million hectares of cropland globally.
  • By 2050, climate change is projected to exacerbate the situation, putting 13.5 million hectares of cropland at risk.

Wheat Blast (WB)

  • It is a fungal disease caused by the pathogen Magnaporthe oryzae pathotype Triticum (MoT).
  • It was first identified in Brazil in 1985.
  • It is a fast-acting and devastating disease that poses a significant threat to wheat crops, particularly in tropical and subtropical regions.


  • Progressive bleaching of heads, where infected spikes show a silvery appearance with a green canopy, turning partially or fully bleached in severe cases.
  • Infected plants exhibit discoloured stems and leave with dark brown lesions and visible dark grey fungal spores.

Wheat Blast

How does it spread?

  • It spreads via infected seeds, posing threat to new crops as the fungus can persist within them.
  • Airborne spores are key in wheat blast transmission, travelling long distances and swiftly infecting nearby wheat fields upon release.
  • Infected crop residues containing the fungus aid in disease spread by surviving and infecting new plants under favourable conditions.
  • Warmer temperatures and prolonged leaf moisture aid wheat blast pathogen spread, fostering disease growth.
  • Also, international wheat trade has been a cause in some countries like Bangladesh and Zambia.


  • It leads to significant yield reductions, with projections indicating a potential 13% global wheat production decrease.
    • Vulnerable regions like South America and Africa could face up to 75% of their wheat acreage at risk by 2050.
  • WB can incur significant economic losses in certain countries.
    • Vulnerable wheat-growing regions in Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan could incur potential losses of 886 thousand metric tons of wheat production, amounting to USD 132 million annually.
    • E.g. During the 2016 outbreak, an estimated total wheat production loss of approximately 8,205 tons, worth USD 2.1 million, was recorded.
  • The spread of WB poses a threat to global food security, particularly in regions experiencing growing wheat consumption.

Way Forward

  • Develop and promote wheat varieties resistant to WB.
  • Combine race non-specific resistance genes to enhance durability.
  • Fungicide spray applications can help manage WB.
  • Strictly regulate the movement of contaminated plant material and farm equipment.
  • Implement practices to break the disease cycle.
  • Properly manage crop residues to reduce disease transmission.
  • Use early warning systems to predict disease outbreaks.
  • Investigate biological control agents to suppress WB (Beneficial microorganisms or natural enemies can play a role).
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