Distribution of Fusarium crown rot (FCR) and common root rot (CRR) pathogens associated with wheat (Triticum aestivum) in 91 fields in Montana were determined during the 2008 and 2009 crop seasons using real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) and conventional isolation methods. Correlations (P < 0.001) were found between detection methods for both diseases. FCR was detected in 57% of the fields and CRR was detected in 93% of the fields surveyed. Percent incidence based on isolation from individual tillers was Bipolaris sorokiniana (15%), F. culmorum (13%), and F. pseudograminearum (8%). FCR populations were highly variable across the regions and were not detected in any fields from the Gb5 soil types of Judith Basin and Fergus counties. The spatial distributions of FCR and CRR were affected by elevation, soil type, and temperature. High FCR populations were associated with spring wheat crops rather than winter wheat based on qPCR (P < 0.001). FCR and CRR could produce yield losses in a range of 3 to 35%. This study is the first time that qPCR was used to survey these two pathogen groups, and the merits and weakness of qPCR relative to traditional isolation methods are discussed.
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