Blair J. Goates, USDA-ARS, Aberdeen, ID;
Gary L. Peterson, USDA-ARS, Frederick, MD;
Robert L. Bowden, USDA-ARS, Manhattan, KS; and
Larry D. Maddux, Kansas State University, Topeka
Dwarf bunt caused by Tilletia contraversa is a disease of winter wheat that has a limited geographic distribution due to specific winter climate requirements. The pathogen is listed as a quarantine organism by several countries that may have wheat production areas with inadequate or marginal climate for the disease—in particular the People's Republic of China. Field experiments were conducted in the United States in an area of Kansas that is a climatic analog to the northern winter wheat areas of China to evaluate the risk of disease introduction into such areas. The soil surface of four replicate 2.8 × 9.75 m plots, planted with a highly susceptible cultivar, was inoculated with six teliospore concentrations ranging from 0.88 to 88,400 teliospores/cm2. A single initial inoculation was done in each of three nurseries planted during separate seasons followed by examination for disease for 4 to 6 years afterward. Any diseased spikes produced were crushed and returned to the plots where they were produced. One nursery had no disease during all six seasons. In two nurseries, the disease was induced at trace levels at the three highest inoculation rates. Disease carryover to the second year occurred during one year in one nursery in plots at the highest inoculation rate, but no disease occurred the following three seasons. A duplicate nursery planted in a disease conducive area in Utah demonstrated that the highest rate of inoculum used in the experiments was sufficient to cause almost 100% infection. This study demonstrated that in an area with marginal climatic conditions it was possible to induce transient trace levels of dwarf bunt, but the disease was not established even with a highly susceptible cultivar and high levels of inoculum. Our results support the conclusions of the 1999 Agreement on U.S.-China Agricultural Cooperation which set a tolerance for teliospores in grain, and supports the Risk Assessment Model for Importation of United States Milling Wheat Containing T. contraversa.