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World experts convene to improve bacterial blight management and increase farmers’ yields

MANILA, Philippines (17 October 2023) - Plant pathologists from all over the world shared the latest discoveries and innovations to increase bacterial blight resistance in rice and mitigate its impact on rice production at the 7th International Conference on Bacterial Blight (ICBB07).

Bacterial blight can cause up to 70% yield loss, making it one of the most destructive diseases in rice. It kills seedlings within two to three weeks, and those that survive are stunted, have reduced tillering, and produce poor-quality grains.

ICBB07 featured studies and technological advances aimed at controlling the spread of the disease. First convened in Japan in 2004, the ICBB responds to the need for developing and disseminating better tools for detection, identification, and race-typing of the reference Xoo culture collection, and identify sets of near-isogenic rice carrying specific R genes interacting with corresponding avr genes in the bacteria.

Hans Bhardwaj, director for Rice Breeding Innovations at the International Rice Research Institute reiterated the role that the conference plays in the overall advancement of rice research.

“Breeding hybrids with high genetic potential is one thing,” said Dr. Bhardwaj, “However, we need specific expertise to realize the full potential of these varieties. This is a collective effort, and through this conference, your knowledge and experiences come into play.”

PathoTracer, a tool that reduces the time it takes to identify the contemporary and evolving strains of bacteria causing bacterial blight, was introduced at the conference. The decision support system integrates early-season pathogen diagnostics and disease resistance profiles intended for use by public and private enterprises in accurately defining breeding priorities and in implementing coordinated actions to manage crop diseases in real time.

The conference also tackled new findings on BB global distribution and their genetic diversity in Asia and Africa, Xoo genomics and their evolution that can contribute to the effective mitigation of the disease, the regulatory mechanisms of rice resistance and Xoo virulence induced by TAL effectors, advances on executor and susceptibility genes, genome editing for engineering BB resistance and of a rice gene for conferring multipathogen resistance, and on strategies for improving disease management and breeding, among others.

ICBB07, held during the recent 6th International Rice Congress in the Philippines, was attended by 74 members of the bacterial blight community, representing 16 countries.

“The community continues engagement because this is an opportunity for us to connect upstream research to possible global interventions that we can adopt to mitigate the devastating effects of this disease,” said Dr. Casiana Vera Cruz, chair of the ICBB07 Organizing and Science Committee. “Furthermore, this is an opportunity to connect with other experts in the field, and enhance existing partnerships”

You may visit this link for more information on the bacterial blight of rice.