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Epidemiology of Blackleg (Leptosphaeria maculans) of Canola (Brassica napus) in Relation to Maturation of Pseudothecia and Discharge of Ascospores in Western Australia

August 2007 , Volume 97 , Number  8
Pages  1,011 - 1,021

R. Khangura , J. Speijers , M. J. Barbetti , M. U. Salam , and A. J. Diggle

First, second, and fifth authors: Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia, Locked Bag No. 4, Bentley Delivery Center, South Perth, WA 6983, Australia; third author: School of Plant Biology, The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia; and fourth author: Centre for Cropping Systems, Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia, P.O. Box 483, Northam, WA 6401, Australia.

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Accepted for publication 26 March 2007.

The timing of maturation of pseudothecia and discharge of ascospores of the blackleg fungus (Leptosphaeria maculans) is critical in relation to infection early in the cropping season of canola. During 1998 to 2000, development of pseudothecia was investigated on residues of the previous year's canola crop collected from four agroclimatically different locations: Mount Barker (southern high rainfall), Wongan Hills (central medium rainfall), Merredin (central low rainfall), and East Chapman (northern low rainfall) in Western Australia. The pseudothecia matured on residues at different times after harvest in various regions. In general, pseudothecia maturity occurred earlier in the high-rainfall areas than in medium- and low-rainfall areas. An ascospore discharge pattern was investigated from residues of crop from the previous year (6-month-old residues) at three locations—Mount Barker, Wongan Hills, and East Chapman in Western Australia—and from 18-month-old residues that were burnt and raked in the previous year at Mount Barker and East Chapman. Ascospore discharge commenced earlier in high-rainfall (>450 mm) areas (Mount Barker) and late in northern low-rainfall (<325 mm) areas (East Chapman). The major ascospore showers took place during May (late autumn) and June (early winter) at Mount Barker and during July and August (mid- to late winter) at East Chapman. The number of ascospores discharged was extremely low at East Chapman compared with Mount Barker. At both locations, the number of ascospores discharged from 18-month-old residues that were raked and burnt in the previous year were only ≈10% of those discharged from previous year's residues left undisturbed. The discharge of ascospores on any given day was negatively correlated with accumulated temperatures, maximum temperature, evaporation, minimum and maximum soil temperatures, and solar radiation and was positively correlated with the minimum temperature, rain, and minimum relative humidity. This is the first report describing how pseudothecia mature on residues in different rainfall areas in Western Australia, and it potentially can be used in developing a forecasting system to avoid the synchronization of major ascospore showers with the maximum susceptibility period of canola seedlings.

© 2007 The American Phytopathological Society