, Volume 109, Issue 7, pp 755-768

Influence of Climatic Factors on Fusarium Species Pathogenic to Cereals

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Fusarium head blight of small-grain cereals, ear rot of maize, seedling blight and foot rot of cereals are important diseases throughout the world. Fusarium graminearum, F. culmorum, F. poae, F. avenaceum and Microdochium nivale (formerly known as F. nivale) predominantly cause Fusarium diseases of small-grain cereals. Maize is predominantly attacked by F. graminearum, F. moniliforme, F. proliferatum and F. subglutinans. These species differ in their climatic distribution and in the optimum climatic conditions required for their persistence. This review deals with the influence of climate on the production and dispersal of inocula, growth, competition, mycotoxin production and pathogenicity. Most species produce inocula, grow best, and are most pathogenic to cereal heads at warm temperatures and under humid conditions. However, the optimal conditions for F. moniliforme and F. proliferatum maize ear rot tend to be hot and dry and M. nivale head blight, seedling blight and foot rot of small-grain cereals tend to occur under cooler conditions. Seedling blight and foot rot caused by other species are favoured by warm dry weather. Between them, these fungi produce four important classes of mycotoxins: trichothecenes, zearalenone, fumonisins and moniliformin. Conditions favourable for in vitro growth are also generally the most favourable for mycotoxin production on cereal grains. These fungi rarely exist in isolation, but occur as a complex with each other and with other Fusaria and other fungal genera. Climatic conditions will influence competition between, and the predominance of, different fungi within this complex.