, Volume 136, Issue 1, pp 21-33,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Climate change and potential future risks through wheat diseases: a review

Abstract

This review summarizes the most significant results from the so far existing, but fragmented studies on the potential effects of climate change on wheat pathogens and the diseases they cause. The analysis demonstrates that predictions are uncertain and future disease risk trends must be differentiated on a geographic and time scale. For example, disease incidence of Fusarium head blight in the United Kingdom might increase middle of this century, whereas disease severity of Septoria tritici blotch might decrease in France end of this century. Thus, wheat disease problems caused by a changing climate will probably not consistently worsen, as climatic changes may also improve the crop health situation in wheat depending on the location. The results of long-term simulations of future disease risk must be taken with caution, because different climate models and downscaling methods are used to make the projections and this can create considerable uncertainty. Being aware of this short-coming, plant pathologists recently started to assess the sources of uncertainty related to their long-term disease simulations. However, in spite of this progress there is still a significant lack of simulation studies related to different wheat diseases in various locations that could help to estimate future wheat grain losses due to climatic changes. Many more of these studies are certainly needed. Otherwise, the focus in the climate change debate will remain on the yield loss/gain potential due to changes in the environmental conditions only, which would neglect the important impact of altered biotic constraints such as diseases which are among the key factors in the estimation of future global wheat productivity.