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    The potential of Miscanthus to harbour known cereal pathogens
    Miscanthus holds great potential as a bioenergy crop and Ireland has ideal conditions for its cultivation, however limited information is available about the interactions between Miscanthus and soil fungi which are pathogenic to other crops grown in Ireland and the UK. Miscanthus may therefore be susceptible to soil-borne pathogens present in the soil prior to crop establishment or may harbour pathogens and facilitate transmission of disease to other crops. The response of Miscanthus to a number of fungal species was recorded to determine the vulnerability of Miscanthus to some of the most important cereal pathogens in Ireland. The microbial species were selected based on their presence in soil and their known pathogenicity towards cereal crops currently grown in Ireland. A number of fungi caused a significant level of infection on detached Miscanthus leaves: Rhizoctonia solani, Fusarium poae (Fusarium sporotrichiella var. poae) and Sordaria fimicola caused the greatest level of symptoms while Fusarium culmorum caused the greatest visual disease symptoms in living tissue during whole plant tests. The results suggest that Miscanthus is susceptible to a number of cereal fungal pathogens, and that of all the species investigated Fusarium species pose the greatest threat to Miscanthus plantings in Ireland. Fusarium is a known causative agent of blight in cereals, thus its ability to survive both on living and discarded Miscanthus tissue is important as it suggests that Miscanthus could act as a 'disease bridge' for cereal pathogens.
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