Wheat Blast

Wheat Blast is an emerging disease that has been detected in parts of South America and South Asia.  Given the global importance of wheat as one of the most widely consumed cereal crops, proactive approaches are needed to minimize crop losses.  Wheat blast causes millions of dollars in losses and is a disease on the move.  Further, its symptoms on wheat spikes resemble those of Fusarium Head Scab (FHB), a disease well established and prevalent in various wheat regions in the U.S. and beyond.

We have developed a unique collaborative work with North and South American researchers from various institutions to tackle the threat posed by this disease.  Our approach driven by social awareness and a will to making a positive impact on the world’s food supply has earned him a sterling reputation in the wheat blast research community.  We built a world-class plant disease phenotyping operation in Bolivia which has been active for more than seven years.  This operation is still in use, enabling Dr. Cruz and a diverse global team to investigate the epidemiology of wheat blast and evaluate disease resistance phenotypes of candidate wheat lines.

Dr. Cruz and his team are currently working on using traditional and advanced optical sensing technologies to characterize wheat blast (WHB) and FHB symptoms on representative wheat cultivars.  His team will develop algorithms for detection and classification of WHB and FHB symptoms.


  • Borlaug International Agricultural Technology Fellowship.
  • Australian Government Grains Research and Development Corporation / Biosecurity Preparedness of the Grains Industry Against Wheat Blast.