Rice blast is a serious fungal disease of rice (Oryza sativa
L.) that is threatening global food security. It has been extensively studied due to the importance of rice production and consumption, and because of its vast distribution and destructiveness across the world. Rice blast, caused by Pyricularia oryzae
Cavara 1892 (A), can infect aboveground tissues of rice plants at any growth stage and cause total crop failure. The pathogen produces lesions on leaves (leaf blast), leaf collars (collar blast), culms, culm nodes, panicle neck nodes (neck rot), and panicles (panicle blast), which vary in color and shape depending on varietal resistance, environmental conditions, and age. Understanding how rice blast is affected by environmental conditions at the cellular and genetic level will provide critical insight into incidence of the disease in future climates for effective decision-making and management. Integrative strategies are required for successful control of rice blast, including chemical use, biocontrol, selection of advanced breeding lines and cultivars with resistance genes, investigating genetic diversity and virulence of the pathogen, forecasting and mapping distribution of the disease and pathogen races, and examining the role of wild rice and weeds in rice blast epidemics. These tactics should be integrated with agronomic practices including the removal of crop residues to decrease pathogen survival, crop and land rotations, avoiding broadcast planting and double cropping, water management, and removal of yield-limiting factors for rice production. Such an approach, where chemical use is based on crop injury and estimated yield and economic losses, is fundamental for the sustainable control of rice blast to improve rice production for global food security.
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