A crown rust fungus could help manage two highly invasive plants in Minnesota

March 5, 2024

Though some crown rust fungi are known to cause widespread damage to oat and barley crops, new research from the University of Minnesota suggests a close relative of these major pathogens could actually be a valuable asset in managing two highly invasive wetland plants in Minnesota. 

Findings recently published in Plant Disease show that Puccinia coronata var. coronata, or Pcc — a non-native rust fungus recently reported in North America — could be beneficial in managing glossy buckthorn (Frangula alnus) and reed canarygrass (Phalaris arundinacea).

“As this fungal pathogen affects two highly invasive species, understanding its host range helps define strategies and predict its impact if used as an augmentative biocontrol agent,” said Pablo D. Olivera Firpo, a research associate professor in the Department of Plant Pathology. 

The research was funded by the University’s Minnesota Invasive Terrestrial Plants and Pests Center, supported by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR). 

Read more in the full research brief.