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A new bacterial consortium can combat economically important wheat disease

Published: 03 May 2024
Wheat spikes in a greenhouse. Photo.

A new promising mix of bacteria is identified for managing Fusarium head blight, a disease that cause economical losses worldwide. This biological control method could be a step towards using less fungicides and achieve a more sustainable agriculture.

Fusarium head blight is an economically important fungal disease in winter wheat. It is caused by several different fusarium species and can lead to major yield reductions worldwide. Most serious, however, is that several Fusarium species can form mycotoxins that are dangerous for both humans and animals.

Promising bacterial consortium

Now, researchers from have identified a promising bacterial consortium capable of effectively managing Fusarium head blight.

– This bacterial consortium can inhibit Fusarium growth, significantly reduce disease progression, and decrease levels of the dangerous mycotoxin deoxynivalenol, says Vishnukiran Thuraga who led the study.

– Our research could drastically reduce the need for chemical fungicides, which are not only costly but also pose environmental risks. Our approach not only combats Fusarium head blight, but also promotes the overall health and yield of wheat crops through increased photosynthesis in the wheat spike, says Aakash Chawade, the principal investigator of the study.

Natural enemies to Fusarium

The bacterial strains in the consortium are naturally occurring enemies of Fusarium and therefore works as biological control. Bacteria from the genera Bacillus and Pseudomonas genera, known for their biocontrol capabilities, are included in the mix.

– The increased photosynthesis in the wheat spikes that was observed could be used as a new phenotyping tool for large-scale screening of wheat varieties for Fusarium head blight sensitivity. This tool could then be used in developing resistant wheat strains, says Ramesh Vetukuri.

– Our next step is to start field trials and validate the effectiveness of the bacterial consortium under diverse environmental conditions, says Farideh Ghadamgahi.

– In the long term, we hope to get this eco-friendly solution out to farmers and thus contribute to food safety and reduced chemical use, concludes Fantaye Ayele Dadi.


This research was supported by SLU Grogrund, SIDA and FORMAS.