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Variation in Fusarium graminearum and Cultivar Resistance to Wheat Scab. Gui Hua Bai, former Graduate Research Assistant, Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907-1155. Gregory Shaner, Professor, Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907-1155. Plant Dis. 80:975-979. Accepted for publication 21 May 1996. Copyright 1996 The American Phytopathological Society. DOI: 10.1094/PD-80-0975.

Understanding variation in pathogen virulence and cultivar resistance is important for development of effective strategies for breeding wheat cultivars resistant to scab. Six isolates of Fusarium graminearum from China and the United States were compared for variation in cultural characteristics and virulence on nine wheat cultivars with different degrees of resistance to scab. The isolates varied in their cultural characteristics and ability to cause scab, but there was no consistent specificity of cultivar resistance or pathogen virulence. Therefore, a mixture of local isolates is an appropriate inoculum to screen for scab resistance. Subculturing the fungus on potato dextrose agar for eight generations did not reduce virulence. In the greenhouse, eight cultivars were tested five times over 3 years by inoculating one central floret in a spike with an Indiana isolate of the fungus. Cultivars Ning 7840, Sumai 49, Fu 5114, and Sumai 3 were consistently resistant. The fungus spread from the inoculated spikelet to noninoculated spikelets of resistant cultivars in less than 20% of the plants, and spread was not evident until 12 days after inoculation. All plants of susceptible cultivar Clark showed spread of infection, and symptoms appeared on noninoculated spikelets by 8 days after inoculation. Sudden blight on the top part of the spike may be an important characteristic of highly susceptible cultivars. Measurement of spread of scab within a spike is a stable and reliable estimate of cultivar resistance.