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Like a stealthy enemy, blast disease invades rice crops around the world, killing plants and cutting production of one of the most important global food sources.
More than 600 million people could be fed each year by halting the spread of fungal diseases in the world's five most important crops.
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists have characterized the molecular mechanism behind some plants' ability to resist rice blast, a fungal disease that affects cereal grain crops such as rice, wheat, rye and barley and can cause yield losses of up to 30 percent.
Efforts to halt a fungus that deprives about 60 million people a year of food have led Purdue University scientists to discover the molecular machinery that enables the pathogen to blast its way into rice plants.
Scientists have unravelled the genome of the rice plant's greatest fungal menace, a harvest-wrecking foe that each year destroys the potential to feed 60 million people.