Former Graduate Student
Associate Professor, Department of Bioagricultural Sciences and Pest Management
Professor, Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins 80523
Fusarium acuminatum is one of the causal agents of dryland root rot of winter wheat in Colorado. The effect of F. acuminatum seedling root infection, recorded at heading, on winter wheat cultivars Sandy and CO84 was investigated in the greenhouse. Winter wheat seeds were surface disinfested, germinated, and vernalized. Vernalized seedling roots were inoculated by placing a single, germinated macroconidium of F. acuminatum on the largest root. Inoculated and non-inoculated vernalized seedlings were transplanted to pots and half the plants subjected to water stress. Inoculated plants had significantly lower survival rates and, at maturity, lower relative leaf water content, fewer tillers, shorter plant height, and higher cell ion leakage than non-inoculated plants. Wheat cultivars differed significantly for most traits studied. CO84 was susceptible whereas Sandy was more tolerant of the pathogen, particularly under water stress conditions. These results suggest that relative leaf water content, cell ion leakage, and to some extent seedling survival may be useful attributes for evaluation of resistance to the root rot pathogen.