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Australian Rice Disease Not Matching Anything Known to Science

02 October 2012

AUSTRALIA - The rice disease which destroyed crops in the Kimberley's Ord Irrigation Scheme last year is not matching any other strains of rice blast known to science.

Samples from the Ord were sent to France for testing, but early results suggest the disease is either an unknown native or a mutated version, reports ABC Rural.

Dr Vincent Lanoiselet, from the WA Department of Agriculture, says growers shouldn't be too worried, but the results have definitely surprised researchers.

"The samples that came back were not closely related to any of the isolates that were present in the reference lab and they've got more than 3,000 isolates collected from all over the world," he said.

"So nothing matches it, but it could be somewhere else in the world and just hasn't been collected by researchers, it also could be a native isolate from Australia or a re-combination of different strains. "It is a bit of a surprise that the isolates weren't closely related to those in Indonesia or East Timor, but this doesn't mean we can't control the disease or can't work with the breeders to find a variety that will be tolerant (to the disease), so it's not something people should be scared of."

Strains of rice blast exist right across the world and it's estimated that an extra 60 million people could be fed if the disease didn't exist.

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