Scientists from Japan’s University of Tsukuba have determined that a coating applied to soybean plants could potentially prevent Asian soybean rust (ASR).

So-called for the powdery rust colored fungal spores that develop on the surface of infected soybean plants, ASR is responsible for significant crop yield losses. As such, researchers applied a coating of cellulose nanofiber to soybean leaves in a bid to control the spread of ASR.

In the lab, the research team coated soybean leaves with the cellulose nanofiber, which transformed the typically water repellent surface to a water absorbent one, thereby making the leaf resistant to ASR.

According to the team, soybean leaves treated with the cellulose nanofiber coating saw fewer lesions and the reduced formation of Phakopsora pachyrhizi, which is a fungal pathogen that causes ASR and that needs a living plant host in order to survive.

The study, Covering Soybean Leaves With Cellulose Nanofiber Changes Leaf Surface Hydrophobicity and Confers Resistance Against Phakopsora pachyrhizi, is published in the journal Frontiers in Plant Science.

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