CANBERRA, Nov. 8 (Xinhua) -- Researchers from Australia's national science agency have discovered the origins of the world's deadliest strain of cereal rust disease.
According to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), the Ug99 strain of wheat stem rust fungus, which was first discovered in Uganda in 1999, developed when different rust strains fused.
The finding represents the first molecular evidence that strains of cereal rust disease can hybridize and produce new strains in nature.
Rust diseases destroy crops worth more than 1 billion Australian dollars (about 688 million U.S. dollars) globally every year.
Melania Figueroa, the leader of the CSIRO team responsible for the finding, said that Ug99 is widely considered the most threatening rust strain and has overcome various wheat varieties' stem rust resistance genes.
"Knowing how these pathogens come about means we can better predict how they are likely to change in the future and better determine which resistance genes can be bred into wheat varieties to give long-lasting protection," she said in a media release on Friday.
The research was the result of a collaboration between the CSIRO, Australian National University, the University of Minnesota and the University of the Free State.