Rice sheath blight (ShB) is one of the 3 major rice diseases and has become the most serious disease causing particularly severe yield loss. The soil-borne pathogen Rhizoctonia solani (teleomorph: Thanatephorus cucumeris) is a complex with more than 100 species that attack all known crops, pastures and horticultural species. R. solani is divided into 14 anastomosis groups (AG1 to AG13 and AGBI) Among R. solani AG1 containing three main intraspecific groups (ISG), the subgroup AG1 IA is one of the most important plant pathogens, which causes diseases such as sheath blight, banded leaf, aerial blight and brown patch in many plants, including more than 27 families of monocots and dicots.
As the causal agent of rice ShB, R. solani AG1 IA was thought to be mainly an asexual fungus on rice (Oryza sativa L.). Each year, the blight causes up to a 50% decrease in the rice yield under favourable conditions around the world. In Eastern Asia, it affects about15 - 20 million ha of paddy irrigated rice and causes a yield loss of 6 million tons of rice grains per year. R. solani AG1 IA is also considered to be the most devastating pathogen for other economically important crops, such as corn (Zea mays) and soybean (Glycine max).
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Aiping Zheng, Ph.D.
Professor of Key laboratory of Sichuan Crop Major Disease, Sichuan Agricultural University, Chengdu 611130, China.
Professor of Key Laboratory of Southwest Crop Gene Resource and Genetic Improvement of Ministry of Education, Sichuan Agricultural University, Ya’an 625014, China.