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Development in Action Webinar Series

Wheat blast: tackling the looming menace to global food security

Date: 30/08/2024

Time: 12:00 – 13:00 (BST)

Location: Online

Wheat blast: tackling the looming menace to global food security

In this webinar, Commonwealth Alumnus Dr Tofazzal Islam will discuss the challenges to wheat production caused by wheat blast, a devastating fungal disease which is threatening food security in Bangladesh and across the world.


Wheat blast is caused by the Magnaporthe oryzae Triticum (MoT) pathotype. In 2016, a wheat blast epidemic in Bangladesh devastated 15,000 hectares of wheat, leading to yield losses of up to 100%.


Tofazzal will discuss how his team leveraged next-generation sequencing, open data sharing, and open science approaches to quickly identify the genetic lineage of the wheat blast fungus in Bangladesh and trace it to the South American Magnaporthe oryzae Triticum pathotype.

Tofazzal will also highlight the efforts to combat the epidemic by developing durable, blast-resistant wheat varieties that integrate resistance genes into elite varieties of wheat through gene pyramiding, genome editing, and mutation breeding.

Finally, Tofazzal will explore the importance of collaborative action in managing wheat cultivation to prevent potential catastrophic impacts on global food security.

This webinar will address the CSC development theme, Strengthening resilience and response to crises. The webinar will last for approximately one hour, including a Q&A session.

After the webinar, attendees are invited to stay online and participate in a 30-minute group discussion on the webinar topic to exchange ideas and knowledge, seek out collaborators for their own work, and promote their research in this area.

The CSC’s Development in Action webinar series provides an opportunity for Commonwealth Scholars and Alumni to present on their work and contribution to development across a range of contemporary global challenges and provide insight into ongoing research and action.

Open to all Commonwealth Scholars and Alumni, the monthly webinars will address one of the CSC’s six development themes and provide an opportunity for attendees to engage in real-time Q&A discussion on the topic presented.

You can watch previous webinars on the CSC’s YouTube channel.

Dr Tofazzal Islam is an internationally reputed molecular biologist and biotechnologist. He is the Founding Director of the Institute of Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering (IBGE) at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Agricultural University in Bangladesh.

Currently, he spearheads a large international consortium addressing wheat blast disease through genomics, genome editing, nanobiotechnology, and advanced molecular approaches. This collaboration has resulted in the development of a rapid point-of-care diagnostic method.

Tofazzal has been a recipient of prestigious fellowships and has won many awards for his work as an agriculture biotechnologist, including the 2019 Commonwealth Innovation Award.

Dr Tofazzal Islam is a 2012 Commonwealth Academic Fellow from Bangladesh. He completed an Academic Fellowship in Biotechnology (climate change and biodiversity) at the University of Nottingham.