Virginia Tech™home

Virginia Tech researchers awarded USDA grant to study the spread of devastating wheat diseases

May 24th, 2018

An image of researchers studying wheat diseases by using a camera and other tools

A Virginia Tech research project focused on the dispersal of two wheat pathogens will receive $498,708 over the next three years from the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture program.

Wheat is a staple crop, ranking third among U.S. field crops in planted acreage, production, and gross farm receipts, but yield and grain quality are threatened by diseases, such as rust and Fusarium head blight.

David Schmale, a professor in the Department of Plant Pathology, Physiology, and Weed Science (PPWS) in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and an affiliated researcher with the Biological Transport Interdisciplinary Graduate Education Program, will collaborate with Jonathan Boreyko, an assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics (BEAM) in the College of Engineering (BIOTRANS), and Sunghwan (Sunny) Jung, associate professor in BEAM and an affiliated researcher with the BIOTRANS program.

“Increasing wheat yield in the United States is a top priority for meeting the food security demands of a rising world population. Our research will provide new strategies for minimizing disease spread in wheat, which could help us meet future wheat yield demands,” said Schmale. “Interdisciplinary research is needed to bridge plant pathology and fluid mechanics to study the mechanics of pathogen dispersal.”

Read the full story on Virginia Tech News