Wheat in Australia is threatened by a fungal pathogen that uses light to trigger its plant-killing molecules. Photo by Alexandr Dobysh/Shutterstock

April 12 (UPI) — The fungus Parastagonospora nodorum has forged a deadly partnership with sunlight, and wheat plants are paying the price.

According to scientists at the University of Western Australia, Parastagonospora nodorum produces an herbicide compound called elsinochrome which destroys plant cells when exposed to sunlight.

Researchers manipulated the the fungus’ genome to trigger elsinochrome production, allowing scientists to observe the deadly compound’s behavior inside wheat plants.

“To conserve energy, P. nodorum does not normally produce elsinochrome, however it does when infecting wheat plants,” Heng Chooi, a molecular scientist and research…