Wheat School: Honing in on bacterial leaf streak

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Bacterial leaf streak is not a particularly new disease to Canada but there are ongoing projects to increase identification and prevention of the disease.

Dr. Constanza Fleitas, with the cereal and flax pathology group at the University of Saskatchewan, says that bacterial leaf streak is a growing issue in the U.S., and there are increasing reports of it in Canada, too. Fleitas says they have three ongoing projects researching management of bacterial leaf streak in Canada.

Fleitas says that there a multiple factors contributing to increasing occurrence including sprinkler irrigations, crop rotations, widespread use of fungicide, and no-till practices. Fleitas also says that increased farmer knowledge of the disease has led to increased reporting. (continued below)

Fleitas dives into the effects of irrigation on bacterial leaf streak in the School above. She says that irrigation provides the perfect environment for the bacteria to disperse and infect the crop. As bacteria releases ooze it is transported by water to neighbouring plants.

What is bacterial ooze? It is a milky substance containing millions of bacterial cells. It occurs when conditions are humid, when conditions dry out it becomes a shiny, scale-like covering on leaf. The bacterial cells can enter the plant through stoma or wounds from insects. Bacterial leaf streak likes hot and humid conditions. Due to the bacteria’s preference to warmer conditions Fleitas says the disease is more prevalent in later stages of crop development.

Bacterial leaf streak effects cultivated and not cultivated crops alike. It is, of course, spread by bacteria therefore it requires different tools to manage. Fleitas says that bacterial leaf streak is notoriously seed borne, therefore seed testing is a crucial part of controlling this disease.

What is the importance in management of bacterial leaf streak? Fleitas says this disease lowers the quality of the grain, and encourages growers to contact their agronomists if they suspect bacterial leaf streak is present in crops as ongoing research of the disease requires samples from across as many regions as possible.

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