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Relationship Between the Fungal Complex Causing Fusarium Head Blight of Wheat and Environmental Conditions

January 2008 , Volume 98 , Number  1
Pages  69 - 78

X.-M. Xu, P. Nicholson, M. A. Thomsett, D. Simpson, B. M. Cooke, F. M. Doohan, J. Brennan, S. Monaghan, A. Moretti, G. Mule, L. Hornok, E. Beki, J. Tatnell, A. Ritieni, and S. G. Edwards

First author: East Malling Research, New Road, East Malling, Kent ME19 6BJ, UK; second, third, and fourth authors: Cereals Research Department, John Innes Centre, Norwich Research Park, Colney, Norwich NR4 7UH, UK; fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth authors: School of Biological and Environmental Science, UCD Agriculture and Food Science Centre, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland; ninth and tenth authors: Institute of Sciences of Food Production, Research National Council, Viale Einaudi 51, 70125 Bari, Italy; eleventh and twelfth authors: Agricultural Biotechnology Center, P.O. Box 411, Szebt-Gyorgyi 4, 2100 Gödöllö, Hungary; thirteenth author: Syngenta, Whittlesford, Cambridge CB2 4QT, UK; fourteenth author: Università di Napoli “Federico II”, Dipartimento di Scienza degli Alimenti, Parco Gussone, 80055 Portici (NA) Italy; and fifteenth author: Crop and Environment Research Centre, Harper Adams University College, Newport, Shropshire TF10 8NB, UK.

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Accepted for publication 17 August 2007.

Over 4 years, the environmental conditions and the causal agents of Fusarium head blight (FHB) disease of wheat were determined in field sites in four European countries: Hungary, Ireland, Italy, and the United Kingdom. Polymerase chain reaction-based methods were used to detect each species causing FHB and quantify its DNA (as a measurement of fungal abundance) in the samples. Canonical correspondence analysis (CCA) was used to determine the relationship of the incidence and abundance of each species with weather variables. CCA indicated that little variability in the species prevalence data was explained by the weather variables. In contrast, a greater proportion of variability in abundance data was accounted for by the weather variables. Most samples contained two or more species and statistical analysis suggested that these species tended to coexist at field sites. CCA also indicated that there were differences in the relationships of the prevalence and abundance of the six FHB species with environmental variables. Fusarium poae was associated with relatively drier and warmer conditions, whereas F. graminearum was associated with warmer/humid conditions. F. avenaceum and F. culmorum were both associated with niches of cooler/wet/humid conditions. Two Microdochium species were associated with regions of relatively cool/moderate temperatures and frequent rainfalls of short duration. The results also suggested that environmental conditions differentially affect the infection and colonization processes, and the comparative abundance of the six species.

Additional keywords:community ecology, competition, interaction, synergy.

© 2008 The American Phytopathological Society