Rust!

Here’s some ..

_MG_7704  Oops…No..that’s not the type I meant.

Seriously have you ever walked through long fleshy grass and after the walk wondered why your boots are all orange? Well this is the culprit.

Rust on Grass  Click image for larger view …

The grass blades are gradually turning orange. In fact they are being consumed by a fungus; this is rust disease. It’s pretty much the oldest disease known to attack grasses. The fungal hyphae attack the fleshy leaves of grass during mild damp spells of weather. This year has been wonderful for it, my weather station keeps setting off alarms to warn about it and there’s certainly plenty on some grass patches. As the fungus fruits, it produces spores & these are the orange particles that you see on the grass. Let’s take a closer look …

Orange Rust on Grass  Click image for larger view …

In this micrograph you can clearly see how the leaf is being consumed by the fungus, which is present right through the flesh of the leaf. I think the colours are rather beautiful really but this group of fungi are quite serious across the world. Rusts infect Cereal crops (cereals are also grasses) and damage the leaves. Crop losses can be in the order of 20% and in really serious situations whole fields may be destroyed.

Orange Rust on Grass  Click image for larger view …

The micrograph above shows the orange spores on the leaf, these can be carried off and infect another plant. Later on in the autumn the spores produced by our grass rust will be black. These black spores are tougher and this is how the rust will over winter.

The wheat that is ground to make bread for your breakfast time toast has not only survived attack by bird, rodent & insects but has also won the battle against a whole variety of fungal infections such as rusts. Quite some plant really.

 

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