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Relationship Between Yearly Fluctuations in Fusarium Head Blight Intensity and Environmental Variables: A Window-Pane Analysis

August 2010 , Volume 100 , Number  8
Pages  784 - 797

A. B. Kriss, P. A. Paul, and L. V. Madden

Department of Plant Pathology, The Ohio State University, Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, Wooster 44691.

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Accepted for publication 12 April 2010.

Window-pane methodology was used to determine the length and starting time of temporal windows where environmental variables were associated with annual fluctuations of Fusarium head blight (FHB) intensity in wheat. Initial analysis involved FHB intensity observations for Ohio (44 years), with additional analyses for Indiana (36 years), Kansas (28 years), and North Dakota (23 years). Selected window lengths of 10 to 280 days were evaluated, with starting times from approximate crop maturity back to the approximate time of planting. Associations were quantified with Spearman rank correlation coefficients. Significance for a given variable (for any window starting time in a collection of starting times) was declared using the Simes&apos; multiplicity adjustment; at individual time windows, significant correlations were declared when the individual (unadjusted) P values were <0.005. In all states, moisture- or wetness-related variables (e.g., daily average relative humidity &lsqb;RH&rsqb; and total daily precipitation) were found to be positively correlated with FHB intensity for multiple window lengths and starting times; however, the highest correlations were primarily for shorter-length windows (especially 15 and 30 days) at similar starting times during the final 60 days of the growing season, particularly near the time of anthesis. This period encompasses spore production, dispersal, and fungal colonization of wheat spikes. There was no evidence of significant correlations between FHB and temperature-only variables for any time window; however, variables that combined aspects of moisture or wetness with temperature (e.g., duration of temperature between 15 and 30°C and RH ≥ 80%) were positively correlated with FHB intensity. Results confirm that the intensity of FHB in a region depends, at least in part, on environmental conditions during relatively short, critical time periods for epidemic development.

Additional keywords: disease forecasting, Fusarium graminearum, Gibberella zeae, multiple testing, wheat scab.

© 2010 The American Phytopathological Society