University of Hertfordshire

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Climate greatly affects plant diseases. Climate change can alter the geographic distribution, biology, pathogenicity, host specificity or life cycle of a pathogen. Wheat and maize are two of the most economically important crops in the world, including Egypt. Annual global losses of cereal crops are estimated at 700 billion US dollars (USD). Plant diseases are responsible for c. 50% of these losses, and most of them are due to seed-borne pathogens. Production of wheat and maize needs to increase to meet the increase in population in Egypt.
In the proposed work, distribution of seed-borne pathogens of wheat and maize in Egypt will be determined. For the most important seed-borne pathogenic fungi, biological, physiological, and molecular characterizations will be done. Maps for the geographical distribution of these pathogens will be produced. Impacts of climate change will be determined and maps of predicted disease distribution produced. Pathogens identified will be stored and kept for further investigations.
The expected outcomes are: 1) distribution maps for the most common fungal pathogens of wheat and maize in Egypt; 2) determination of the correlations between climatic variables and the occurrence of these pathogens, to help in predicting their future distribution; 3) suitable measures for controlling these pathogens by understanding each pathosystem; 4) comparative work on the pathogen strains based on their molecular and morphological characteristics; 5) prediction distribution maps of the pathogens using projections from climate models; 6) a culture collection of seed-borne fungi available to other investigators.
To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study in Egypt that investigates the impact of climate change on pathogenic seed-borne fungi. Results from this work may also be applicable to fungal diseases of other crops. This proposal is unique and, if funded, will increase wheat and maize production in Egypt, benefitting the national economy.

ID: 15110992