Assessing the impact that pathogen variation has on the sugarcane breeding program : SRDC final report BSS258
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In recent years, two fungal diseases of sugarcane have had a huge impact on the Australian sugar industry and the BSES CSIRO breeding and pathology programs. Sugarcane smut, caused by Ustilago scitaminea, first appeared in Australia in 1998, whilst orange rust, caused by Puccinia kuehnii, was a minor pathogen until an epidemic devastated the industry in 2000. In the case of both pathogens, the industry had to respond to the outbreaks without a full understanding of the pathogen's population structure. Successful disease-management strategies and deployment of resistance require an understanding of variation in the pathogen population. This project has clarified the genetic makeup of the two pathogens and has identified a number of quarantine issues that could place the Australian sugar industry at risk.