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Not A Fungus

When you’re dealing with something as small as a late blight spore, it can be tough to know just what you’re dealing with – as plant pathologists recently found out.

Rick Peters, a researcher with AAFC, told the Manitoba Potato Days meeting in Brandon recently that they’ve been forced to reassess exactly what late blight is.

“It used to be a fungus,” Peters said. “Now we think it’s more like an algae that acts like a fungus sometimes.”

The reclassification has been a subject of discussion among plant pathologists for years and is now becoming more widely accepted, though to further complicate things, it’s not exactly an algae either.

It’s actually a member of the newly minted classification of oomycetes, which includes things like kelp and algae. They’re basically thought to be more closely related to plants, while fungi are more closely related to animals.

It’s not just a matter of curiosity either – eventually this fine distinction could lead to promising new leads for control options that take into account its new status and explore proven controls of more closely related organisms than fungi.

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