Grain Molds, Mycotoxins and Stalk Rots of Sorghum and Millet


Project Code:
KSU 101

Start Date:

End Date:

CRSP Phase:
Not Available

Not Available

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Lead University:

Other Partners:
Purdue University (US), UTA (Nigeria), University of Free State, Medical Research Council, University of Pretoria (South Africa); Zari (Zambia); Agricultural Biotechnology Center (Hungary); NARO (Uganda)

Principal Investigator(s):
John F. Leslie

Co-Principal Investigator(s):


Fusarium diseases that cause grain mold and stalk rot of sorghum and millet are the most important, but as yet unmanaged diseases, of these crops on a global basis. A number of species of Fusarium contaminate sorghum grain, but the causal agents are difficult to distinguish from secondary saprophytes, and many strains belong to species that have not previously been described due to morphological similarities to those isolate from crops more common in temperate regions. We are working with a large sample of strains from sorghum and pearl millet in Mali and from finger millet in Uganda. At least two new species has been confirmed and an additional 20+ species remain to be resolved. Purified cultures of known genetically distinct strains will enable breeders to more reliably screen for these diseases. Similarly, the location of Fusarium contamination within the seed is being examined to determine if these differences can be exploited as part of resistance breeding programs.

This program provides three forms of short-term training for scientific staff members – Fusarium

Laboratory Workshop, Scientific Writing Workshop and Scientific Research Ethics Workshop.

These workshops help train those unfamiliar with the genus Fusarium in modern methods of working with these pathogens, with many of the techniques applicable to any plant pathogenic fungus. The writing and ethics workshops provide an introduction to the expectations associated for international science projects for scientists unfamiliar with the expectations of the international scientific community. In addition efforts are being pursued to obtain a grant for training graduate students in the United States through a KSU-IITA-INTSORMIL collaborative arrangement, and for training a graduate student from South Africa.


1. Identification of Fusarium species associated with pearl and finger millet and with grain mold and stalk rot of sorghum. Kansas, South Africa, Mali, Uganda. Relates to INTSORMIL objectives 2, 4 and 5. Species identification and determination of toxin-production capabilities is important in assessing the risk posed to grain produced. Species that are present, but do not cause noticeable disease by themselves or produce toxins will be of lower priority for control through breeding or other methods. Some of these species may be candidates for use as biocontrol agents. 2. Identification of portions of sorghum seed particularly susceptible to Fusarium contamination. Kansas, South Africa. Relates to INTSORMIL objectives 4 and 5. The location of the fungi growing on the seed provides targets for breeding and other control practices for changes that could reduce fungal colonization. 3. Regular offering of Scientific Writing, Scientific Research Ethics and Fusarium Laboratory workshops. Kansas, South Africa, Argentina, Brazil, Korea, Malaysia. Training long-term and short-term, at KSU, for colleagues from less-developed countries. Relates to INTSORMIL objective 7. The Writing and Ethics Workshops are important for bringing those unaccustomed to publishing in the international scientific literature. May be offered as independent workshops, as part of an international scientific meeting, or as a part of an in-country visit.


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