Research by a student at the University of Costa Rica (UCR) could help combat coffee rust, a fungus that affects the world’s production of this bean and can devastate entire crops. Rust is caused by a fungus called Hemileia vastatrix and attacks the leaves of the plant in the first place until it ends with the fruit harvest.
“The first thing you see on the sheet are some tiny, yellow dots. When the disease develops, these points become large and a round spot is observed. It is a rust-colored powder that is made behind the leaf and runs too fast throughout the coffee plantation”, described the researcher Emanuel López. He prepared the study for his undergraduate thesis work by doing field evaluations.
In a preliminary evaluation, he observed that there were plants that I do not know got sick or plants that had a low incidence of the disease. Now, the next step would be to test these “promising lines” in different parts of the country, in order to see if the resistance characteristic is maintained.
More dangerous varieties
In Costa Rica, only four races of rust are known, however, it is considered that new, more dangerous varieties could emerge. “The problem is that the rust has already been mutating and there are new breeds that could eventually be more aggressive,” said the specialist in organic farming at Catie, William Solano Sánchez.
This fungus has been in Costa Rica since the early eighties, however it was until 2012 when it caused a crisis in Central America with losses estimated at $ 500 million.