In response to the demand evidenced by a request from the West Africa Rice Development Association (WARDA), this project was established to characterise the molecular and phenotypic variability of rice leaf scald (Monographella albescens) and rice blast (Magnaporthe grisea) populations at selected WARDA and NARS rice trial sites. This characterisation was intended to identify those sites best suited to use for the screening of rice varieties for disease resistance traits, in support of improvement and promotion of environmentally-benign methods of rice disease control in the region.
This study has provided the baseline data on the M. grisea lineage and pathotype diversity and distribution new to this region. This has enabled characterisation of a number of key sites used in the regional and national breeding programmes. In addition, this will also permit further monitoring essential to understand any shifts in the blast pathogen populations. The putative blast resistant germplasm identified by the IPM/Breeding-Task Forces of WARDA, or utilised under the INGER-AFRICA programme, can be tested against lineage representatives to identify potential donors for lineage-exclusion tests. This would pave the way to develop a structured blast resistance breeding and deployment programme appropriate to the diversity and distribution of the pathogen populations.