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A Mathematical Simulation of Growth of Fusarium in Maize Ears After Artificial Inoculation

May 2002 , Volume 92 , Number  5
Pages  534 - 541

D. W. Stewart , L. M. Reid , R. W. Nicol , and A. W. Schaafsma

First and second authors: Eastern Cereal and Oilseed Research Centre, Central Experimental Farm, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1A 0C6; third author: University of Western Ontario, Department of Plant Science, London, Ontario, N6A 5B8; and fourth author: Ridgetown College, University of Guelph, Ridgetown, Ontario, N0P 2C0

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Accepted for publication 24 January 2002.

Fusarium spp. in maize can contaminate the grain with mycotoxins if environmental conditions are favorable for fungal growth. To quantify the relationship between growth of Fusarium spp. and environmental conditions, a mathematical model was developed to simulate growth of F. graminearum and F. verticillioides on maize ears following silk inoculation in field experiments from 1992 to 1995. Each species was inoculated separately and as a mixture of the two for 3 of the 4 years on one maize hybrid. Disease progress in ears was measured by a visual rating scale that was converted to percent visual infection. Measurements were made at regular time intervals after silks were inoculated 5 days after silk emergence. Differential equations were used to relate growth rates of Fusarium spp. in maize ears to hourly air temperature and relative humidity and to daily precipitation. Integration of these equations over time produced quantitative estimates of fungal growth. Model calculations compared well with measurements (R2 = 0.931, standard error of estimate [SEE] = 2.11%) of percent visual disease infection of maize ears over 3 years. The model was tested against a second set of data (R2 = 0.89, SEE = 5.9%) in which silks were inoculated at nine different times after first silk emergence for each of 2 years (1994 and 1995) with the two species of fungi on the same maize hybrid. At this time, a silk function was developed to account for changes in the susceptibility of silks to disease. F. graminearum responded to wet conditions more than F. verticillioides, and for the conditions of this experiment, grew much faster than F. verticillioides when inoculated separately. When they were inoculated together, F. graminearum growth rates were much lower, indicating some interference by F. verticillioides. During 1993, weather conditions before inoculation reduced the growth of both species in silks.

© 2002 The American Phytopathological Society