Dust Storms as Global Disseminators of Plant Pathogens

Amir Afzal, Muhammad Saeed


This contemporary mycological inquiry investigates into the escalating threat to global food security posed by the dispersal of plant pathogens through airborne dust, exemplified by the simulation of a colossal dust storm, named “Godzilla”. Employing advanced computational models, researchers trace the route of Fusarium oxysporum spores from North Africa across the Atlantic, settling in the Caribbean and southeastern United States. The study estimates the conveyance of over 13,000 viable spores, raising concerns about their impact on agricultural regions, particularly southeastern Louisiana, Mexico, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and Cuba. While ultraviolet radiation typically neutralizes airborne spores within three days, the focus shifts to spore viability upon landing in vulnerable agricultural zones. Proximity to the dust source in intercontinental regions intensifies the risk, emphasizing the need to understand fungal disease dynamics and identify susceptible agricultural areas. Global prevalence of F. oxysporum and its capacity to infect over 100 crops highlight the potential for significant crop losses and economic consequences. The research underscores the urgency of comprehending disease dissemination dynamics and protecting global food security, emphasizing regions like sub-Saharan Africa as critical sources of viable spores. The study’s preliminary nature prompts a future focus on observational data acquisition, including comprehensive dust storm mapping and genetic comparisons of F. oxysporum, to validate the model’s findings. This research work calls for proactive measures to address the escalating threat of disease, laying the ground work for forthcoming mycological endeavors


Dust; Pathogens; Disease; Food Security; Spores

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.33804/pp.007.03.4968


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