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Susceptibility of Wheat to Tilletia indica During Stages of Spike Development

September 2006 , Volume 96 , Number  9
Pages  962 - 966

Blair J. Goates and Eric W. Jackson

U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service, 1691 S. 2700 W., Aberdeen, ID 83210

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Accepted for publication 26 March 2006.

Karnal bunt of wheat is caused by the fungus Tilletia indica, which partially converts kernels into sori filled with teliospores. Despite minor overall yield and quality losses, the disease is of considerable international quarantine concern. Plant development stages reported susceptible to infection vary considerably. A study was designed to better define the susceptibility period by inoculating wheat spikes at different growth stages with naturally liberated secondary sporidia under optimal conditions for disease development. Spikes of a resistant and susceptible cultivar were inoculated at eight growth stages from awns emerging to soft dough. Spikes became susceptible only after emerging from the boot and continued to be susceptible up to soft dough stage at which low levels of disease occurred. Disease severity in both cultivars peaked when spikes were inoculated after complete emergence, but before the onset of anthesis. Disease levels tapered off gradually in spikes inoculated after anthesis. The results broaden the known susceptibility period of wheat to T. indica to include stages long after anthesis, and indicate that infection from airborne inoculum is not possible during boot or awns emerging stages, which are commonly referred to as the most susceptible stages.

Additional keywords: smut, Triticum aestivum.

The American Phytopathological Society, 2006