Differential Control of Head Blight Pathogens of Wheat by Fungicides and Consequences for Mycotoxin Contamination of Grain
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- Simpson, D.R., Weston, G.E., Turner, J.A. et al. European Journal of Plant Pathology (2001) 107: 421. doi:10.1023/A:1011225817707
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Fusarium head blight of wheat is caused by a disease complex comprised of toxigenic pathogens, predominantly Fusarium spp., and a non-toxigenic pathogen Microdochium nivale, which causes symptoms visually indistinguishable from Fusarium and is often included as a causal agent of Fusarium head blight. Four field trials are reported here, including both naturally and artificially inoculated trials in which the effect of fungicide treatments were noted on colonisation by Fusarium and Microdochium, and on the production of deoxynivalenol (DON) mycotoxin. The pathogen populations were analysed with quantitative PCR and samples were tested for the presence of the mycotoxin DON. Application of fungicides to reduce Fusarium head blight gave a differential control of these fungi. Tebuconazole selectively controlled F. culmorum and F. avenaceum and reduced levels of DON, but showed little control of M. nivale. Application of azoxystrobin, however, selectively controlled M. nivale and allowed greater colonisation by toxigenic Fusarium species. This treatment also lead to increased levels of DON detected. nobreak Azoxystrobin application two days post-inoculation increased the production of DON mycotoxin per unit of pathogen in an artificially inoculated field trial. This result indicates the potential risk of increased DON contamination of grain following treatment with azoxystrobin to control head blight in susceptible wheat cultivars. This is the first study to show differential fungicidal control of mixed natural pathogen populations and artificial inoculations in field trials.