In focus: Blast disease in rice

In focus: Blast disease in rice


  • Blast disease is a fungal disease that infests rice severely threatening food security worldwide.
  • In India, blast disease is epidemics occurred 7 times between 1980 and 1987 in AP, HP, Haryana and TN.


  • Blast disease in rice is caused by fungus Magnaporthe oryzae which is one of the top 10 fungal plant pathogens in the world.
  • It can infest rice plant in every stage of growth right from seedling including leaves, roots, nodes, panicles etc.

Disease Management

  • Use of fungicides
  • Fertilizer management
  • Planting at a time when pathogens are dormant
  • Breeding programme employing disease resistant cultivars


  • The pathogen Magnaporthe oryzae has adaptability to various environmental conditions and therefore widespread.
  • Managing the disease with fungicides is expensive and also has side effects on human health and environment.
  • The pathogen is extremely virulent posing a constant challenge to disease resistant varieties.


  • In this regard, identifying new spectrum of genes responsible for development of disease resistance in the rice genome is necessary.
  • This work was undertaken by ICAR-NRRI.
  • Once the disease resistant genes are mapped, the rice germplasms dominant in the identified disease resistant genes can be used in breeding programmes.



In brief: National Gene Bank

  • National Gene Bank was established in 1997 under National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (NBPGR).
  • National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources primarily deals with crop improvement and diversification in India by maintaining and augmenting genetic diversity.
  • Its activities include germplasm exploration, exchange and conservation and plant quarantine.
  • In this direction, National Gene Bank was established as safe repository to conserve the seeds of crop germplasm.



In brief: National Rice Research Institute, Cuttack


  • NRRI is the successor of Central Institute for Rice Research in India.
  • The Central Institute for Rice Research was established to arrest sever food shortage that occurred in the aftermath of the Great Bengal Famine.
  • It is under the Crop Science Division of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).


  • Primarily providing research support for stabilizing rice productivity in India.
  • To collect, evaluate and conserve rice germplasm.
  • Integrated pest, disease and nutrient management.
  • Maintain a database of features of rice and rice-based cropping systems in India.
Section : Science & Tech