Fusarium: a ubiquitous fungus of global significance

Fusarium is one of the most economically important genera of fungal plant pathogens, causing significant crop losses and contamination of grain by mycotoxins on a global basis. Some species also cause infections (mycoses) of humans and other animals. Fusarium includes many species, a significant number of which cause a wide range of plant diseases that affect many crops including major food and fibre crops such as wheat, barley, maize, bananas and cotton, often with devastating socio-economic impact. The diseases are often insidious and extremely difficult to control. Its success as a plant pathogen can be attributed to wide host ranges, endophytic infection, and varied modes of survival and dispersal. Representatives occur in virtually all bioclimatic regions of the world in agricultural and natural ecosystems. In this article we present a summary of the key aspects of the biology and morphology of Fusarium and then briefly discuss several plant diseases to illustrate the diverse nature and devastating effects of these fungi, their mycotoxins, the impact of no-till farming systems on disease incidence, and the poorly understood but key role of endophytic colonisation in the disease cycle. Inevitably, the coverage is selective but it indicates the potential global impact of this fungal genus on plant disease and food security.

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Microbiology Australia 33 (Issue 1)

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