This ‘lethal’ blast occurring in Kashmir can’t be blamed on Pakistan

SRINAGAR: This blast happening in Kashmir Valley has nothing to do with the political dispute or Pakistan; its origin and occurrence is rather linked to China and Japan.
But it isn’t a deadly bomb blast often associated with Kashmir. It is the blast triggered by pathogens in the rice fields of the Valley.
A team of agriculture scientists in Kashmir have found that pathogen Magnaporthe oryzae BC Couch, causing the blast- a fungal disease that reduces productivity of rice plants in Kashmir, has proximity to its Chinese and Japanese variants, and not to the Indian ones.
The blast caused by the pathogen in Kashmir Valley is included among the major disease affecting rice production world over.
Assistant professor at Division of Plant Pathology, SKUAST-Kashmir, Dr Mehraj-u-Din Shah, who was also a part of this study carried out to characterise M. oryzae, said the pathogen variant was isolated from Kashmir on the basis of its morphological and molecular characteristics.
For this, he said, the researchers used sequence information of internal transcribed sequencer (ITS) region of ribosomal-DNA to compare the phylogenetic nature of the variant with that of the sequences retrieved from GenBank of the US-based National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI).
“The morphological characters, pathogenicity test, and ITS sequence analysis helped in authentic identification of our blast pathogen isolates, confirming that our pathogen was more closely related to the sequences of Chinese and Japanese isolates of M. oryzae as compared to the Indian isolates,” he told Kashmir Reader.
The authentic identification resulting from the study has earned the pathogen variant a new description—KP310498—at the NCBI.
Shah said the close proximity between the pathogen isolates can be attributed to the fact that Kashmir has been using rice cultivars from China for a long time.
“The pathogen population is greatly influenced by its host,” he added.
He said the identification and analysis of the character holds greater significance for limiting or fighting this disease.
“Rice or Paddy blast has, in the last few years, shown resurgence not only in Kashmir but across North India, mostly due to crop shift and including climate change,” Shah said.
In India, the disease has made a comeback after Basmati replaced traditional rice varieties grown across north India. The pathogen attacks Basmati varieties more, while in Kashmir, the diseases gives prevalence and extent of the disease has distressed the farmers.
The identification, Shah said, could allow researchers to select resistant varieties of rice developed in China and Japan.
“Experiments could be conducted on the varieties to see how they react to our pests,” he said.

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