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Phytopathology. 2012 Jan;102(1):128-34. doi: 10.1094/PHYTO-06-11-0162.

Within-field variation of Fusarium graminearum isolates for aggressiveness and deoxynivalenol production in wheat head blight.

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  • 1Universitat Hohenheim, Stuttgart, Germany.


Fusarium head blight (FHB), caused by Fusarium graminearum sensu stricto (s.s.), causes tremendous annual yield losses in wheat worldwide. Variation of aggressiveness of isolates from individual field populations in terms of FHB infection and deoxynivalenol (DON) concentration in the host are important population parameters reflecting parasitic ability. Our main objective was to estimate the variation of both traits within three populations of F. graminearum s.s., each consisting of 30 single-spore isolates collected from small wheat fields in Germany, and to compare it with 11 isolates of a collection (F. graminearum collection) from four countries. The same isolates were characterized using 19 single-sequence repeat markers. All isolates were spray inoculated on a moderately resistant spring wheat cultivar at two field locations over 2 years (i.e., in four environments). The genotypic proportion of phenotypic variance (σ(2)(G)) within populations was significant (P < 0.01) for both traits, and the σ(2)(G) × environment interaction was even more important for mean FHB severity. Ranges in mean FHB severity and DON concentration in the host were only slightly smaller for the field populations than for the F. graminearum collection. Both traits were significantly (P < 0.05) correlated within and across populations. A further partitioning of σ(2)(G) revealed 72% of σ(2)(G) within and 28% of σ(2)(G) across populations for both traits. Molecular variance of the three populations was similarly distributed (73.6% within versus 26.4% between populations). In view of this high within-field variation for traits of parasitic ability and selection, neutral molecular markers, multiple resistance genes of different origin should be employed in wheat breeding programs to obtain a long-term stable FHB resistance.

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