Original Paper

International Journal of Biometeorology

, Volume 58, Issue 10, pp 2071-2083

First online:

Modelling soil borne fungal pathogens of arable crops under climate change

  • L. M. ManiciAffiliated withConsiglio Nazionale per la Ricerca e sperimentazione in Agricoltura, Research Centre for Industrial Crops Email author 
  • , S. BregaglioAffiliated withDepartment of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences - Production, Landscape, Agroenergy - CASSANDRA, University of Milan
  • , D. FumagalliAffiliated withEuropean Commission, Joint Research Centre, Institute for the Protection and Security of the Citizen, MARS Unit, AGRI4CAST Action
  • , M. DonatelliAffiliated withConsiglio Nazionale per la Ricerca e sperimentazione in Agricoltura, Research Centre for Industrial Crops

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Soil-borne fungal plant pathogens, agents of crown and root rot, are seldom considered in studies on climate change and agriculture due both to the complexity of the soil system and to the incomplete knowledge of their response to environmental drivers. A controlled chamber set of experiments was carried out to quantify the response of six soil-borne fungi to temperature, and a species-generic model to simulate their response was developed. The model was linked to a soil temperature model inclusive of components able to simulate soil water content also as resulting from crop water uptake. Pathogen relative growth was simulated over Europe using the IPCC A1B emission scenario derived from the Hadley-CM3 global climate model. Climate scenarios of soil temperature in 2020 and 2030 were compared to the baseline centred in the year 2000. The general trend of the response of soil-borne pathogens shows increasing growth in the coldest areas of Europe; however, a larger rate of increase is shown from 2020 to 2030 compared to that of 2000 to 2020. Projections of pathogens of winter cereals indicate a marked increase of growth rate in the soils of northern European and Baltic states. Fungal pathogens of spring sowing crops show unchanged conditions for their growth in soils of the Mediterranean countries, whereas an increase of suitable conditions was estimated for the areals of central Europe which represent the coldest limit areas where the host crops are currently grown. Differences across fungal species are shown, indicating that crop-specific analyses should be ran.


Modelling crop diseases Large area simulation Foot rot Winter cereals Spring sowing crops Soil temperature