Multi-peril pathogen risks to global wheat production: A probabilistic loss and investment assessment

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Crop diseases cause significant food and economic losses. We examined the joint, probabilistic, long-term, bio-economic impact of five major fungal pathogens of wheat on global wheat production by combining spatialized estimates of their climate suitability with global wheat production and modeled distributions of potential crop losses. We determined that almost 90% of the global wheat area is at risk from at least one of these fungal diseases, and that the recurring losses attributable to this set of fungal diseases are upwards of 62 million tons of wheat production per year. Our high-loss regime translates to around 8.5% of the world’s wheat production on average—representing calories sufficient to feed up to 173 million people each year. We estimate that a worldwide research expenditure of $350-$974 million (2018 prices) annually on these five fungal diseases of wheat, let alone other pathogens, can be economically justified, equivalent to 2 to 5 times more than the amount we estimate is currently spent on all wheat disease-related public R&D.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1034600
JournalFrontiers in Plant Science
StatePublished - Oct 31 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work received funding support from 2Blades, the University of Minnesota’s GEMS Informatics Center, and CIMMYT, the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center. Prior work on the development of CLIMEX models received support from the International Science and Technology Practice and Policy (InSTePP) Center at the University of Minnesota and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Grant # OPPGD1450 by way of the HarvestChoice initiative.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2022 Chai, Senay, Horvath and Pardey.


  • biotic risks
  • disease losses
  • fungal diseases
  • R&D investment
  • wheat

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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