Good News for Farmers, Invention of New Technology to Identify Wheat Fungi
By Zeba Tarannum
There was no technology before to identify whether there is a blast fungus in wheat.
Before the invention of this technology, rice and wheat blast fungi’ life secrets have been revealed and analyzed.
Scientists from Bangladesh, the United States, and China have worked to innovate the technology.
A team of scientists from Bangladesh, the United States, and China have quickly developed a new technology to detect wheat blast disease. This technology can identify blast fungi by examining wheat plants, their seeds, or wheat grains. This will take only 30 minutes.
The results of the study were published in the journal of Engineering Science earlier this month. This newly invented technology is a lot, like a human pregnancy test.
A portion of the wheat should be placed in the newly invented ‘strip.’ It will be known in half an hour whether there is a fungus responsible for the blast. It will cost Tk. 300 to 400 to make this device. It may decrease further in the future.
Institutions associated with this technological innovation are the Institute of Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering (IBGE) at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Agricultural University (BSMRAU) of Bangladesh, Ohio State University in the United States, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in the United States and the Chinese Academy of Science.
The original research was funded by the Agricultural Research Foundation of the Government of Bangladesh.
However, the International Molecular Research Center has provided technical and partial funding. BSMRAU’s Professor Md. Tofazzal Islam led the research team.
He said that this technology, the life secrets of rice and wheat blast fungi had been unveiled and analyzed. It then separates two specific small parts of its DNA, which remains in the wheat blast disease fungus’ genome.
Then devices were invented to identify that genome. The device was able to detect wheat blast fungi collected from South America and Bangladesh; this has been confirmed in the research.
A part of the study was conducted at the Institute of Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering (IBGE) at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Agricultural University (BSMRAU).
The fungus detection device was invented in the laboratory of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. And it has been evaluated at the University of Ohio in the United States.
It took about a year and a half for this. Wheat blast disease is seen as a severe problem worldwide. The disease first appeared in Brazil in 1975. Later it spread to about 3 million hectares of land in Argentina, Bolivia, and Paraguay.
When the weather is favorable, it destroys 100% of the wheat. The blast does not allow grains to form inside the wheatear.
In 2016, the disease first appeared in wheat in Bangladesh among South Asian countries. At that time, wheat of 15,000 hectares of land was wasted in four districts. Scientists say the disease could even spread to rice.
Due to the attack of that disease, the production of wheat in Bangladesh decreased from 12 lakh tons to 8 lakh tons. In 2018, the disease first appeared in wheat in Bangladesh among South Asian countries. In 2018, it spread to 70,000 hectares of wheat land in South Asia.
When asked, BSMRAU’s Vice-Chancellor Mohammad Gias Uddin Mia said it also opened the door for new research in the future to control wheat blast disease.
Blast disease is a significant threat not only in Bangladesh but also in the world. As a result, this discovery will, at the same time, play a significant role in ensuring food security in the world. Sterilized wheat will play an essential role in the production, import, and export.
Scientists say that before the invention of this technology, it has been given priority to make it easy to use. Moreover, it has been monitored that the farmers can quickly identify the fungus from any wheat sample in the field, and the price is within reach of the farmer.
Bangladesh produces 10 to 12 lakh tons of wheat annually. Bangladesh also imports 6.5 million tons of wheat from abroad every year. As the fifth-largest importer globally, Bangladesh imports wheat from many countries in the world, including South America, Canada, and India. But there was no technology to identify whether there is a blast fungus in any wheat.
Guo Liang Young, a professor at Ohio State University, said wheat is one of the world’s staple foods. It is the world’s top import-export food product. So everyone was worried about the spread of wheat blast disease.
At least in any country, whether the disease has spread or not or the presence of wheat blast during import-export will be known quite.