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Phytopathology. 2013 Dec;103(12):1252-9. doi: 10.1094/PHYTO-02-13-0056-R.

Assessment and introduction of quantitative resistance to Fusarium head blight in elite spring barley.


Breeding for resistance is a key task to control Fusarium head blight (FHB), a devastating disease of small cereals leading to economic losses and grain contamination with mycotoxins harmful for humans and animals. In the present work, FHB resistance of the six-rowed spring barley 'Chevron' to FHB in Germany was compared with those of adapted German spring barley cultivars. Both under natural infection conditions and after spray inoculation with conidia of Fusarium culmorum, F. sporotrichioides, and F. avenaceum under field conditions, Chevron showed a high level of quantitative resistance to the infection and contamination of grain with diverse mycotoxins. This indicates that Chevron is not only a little susceptible to deoxynivalenol-producing Fusarium spp. but also to Fusarium spp. producing type A trichothecenes and enniatins. Monitoring the initial infection course of F. culmorum on barley lemma tissue by confocal laser-scanning microscopy provided evidence that FHB resistance of Chevron is partially mediated by a preformed penetration resistance, because direct penetration of floral tissue by F. culmorum was observed rarely on Chevron but was common on susceptible genotypes. Alternatively, F. culmorum penetrated Chevron lemma tissue via stomata, which was unusual for susceptible genotypes. We generated double-haploid barley populations segregating for the major FHB resistance quantitative trait loci (QTL) Qrgz-2H-8 of Chevron. Subsequently, we characterized these populations by spray inoculation with conidia of F. culmorum and F. sporotrichioides. This suggested that Qrgz-2H-8 was functional in the genetic background of European elite barley cultivars. However, the degree of achieved resistance was very low when compared with quantitative resistance of the QTL donor Chevron, and the introgression of Qrgz-2H-8 was not sufficient to mediate the cellular resistance phenotype of Chevron in the European backgrounds.

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