First and second authors: Department of Plant Science; and third author: Department of Animal Science, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3T 2N2 Canada.
Blackleg, also known as Phoma stem canker, caused by Leptosphaeria maculans (Phoma lingam), is one of the most serious diseases of canola worldwide. In this study, the mean disease severity (Ds) and incidence (Di) of canola cv. Westar plants infected at the cotyledon, three-leaf, and six-leaf stages by pycnidiospores of L. maculans were monitored in the greenhouse after infection of the plants under field conditions in two successive years and associated with meteorological data during infection time. Pearson's correlation coefficient showed that total rainfall per week (R) was significantly correlated to Ds on plants infected at the cotyledon, three-leaf, and six-leaf stages, and average maximum temperature per week (Tmax) only showed significant correlation with plants infected at the cotyledon and six-leaf stages. These results also indicated that there is correlation between Di and R for plants infected at all three growth stages. A nonlinear model was developed to evaluate the combined effects of R and Tmax on Ds. The best model comprised monomolecular function and β probability density function for plants infected at the above three growth stages. Parameters, including maximum potential for Ds at a given rainfall (dmax), rate of changes with respect to rainfall (k), constant of integration (B), maximum potential for Ds with respect to Tmax (e), rate of increase with increasing Tmax to optimum (n), and rate of decrease as Tmax increased and passed the optimum Tmax (p), were estimated for plants infected at the above three growth stages. The effect of plant growth stage was characterized by differences in the upper limit parameter a. This parameter was greater for the plants infected at the cotyledon stage than for plants infected at the other two stages. The estimate of parameter k was the same for the plants infected at the cotyledon and three-leaf stages. This parameter was much lower for the plants infected at the six-leaf stage compared with two other stages. The logistic model could describe the disease incidence with respect to R slightly better than the other two models in the plants infected at all three growth stages. Based on the model, upper-limit estimate (dmax) was ≈100, 94.4, and 88.8% in the plants infected at cotyledon, three-leaf, and six-leaf stages, respectively. Di increased until rainfall reached ≈18, 10, and 13 mm/week and became constant in the plants at cotyledon, three-leaf, and six-leaf stages, respectively. Effects of plant growth stage on the rate of change with respect to R (parameter k) were lower in the plants infected at cotyledon than at the other two stages. The accuracy of the nonlinear models suggests that they could be used to develop a comprehensive model to evaluate epidemics of blackleg based on pycnidiospores as sources of inoculum. However, additional years of data collection should improve model fit and evaluation of introduced models and contribute to the development of a more robust predictive model.