Isolates of Fusarium graminearum collected 40–320 meters above ground level cause Fusarium head blight in wheat and produce trichothecene mycotoxins
The aerobiology of fungi in the genus Fusarium is poorly understood. Many species of Fusarium are important pathogens of plants and animals and some produce dangerous secondary metabolites known as mycotoxins. In 2006 and 2007, autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) were used to collect Fusarium 40–320 m above the ground at the Kentland Farm in Blacksburg, Virginia. Eleven single-spored isolates of Fusarium graminearum (sexual stage Gibberella zeae) collected with autonomous UAVs during fall, winter, spring, and summer months caused Fusarium head blight on a susceptible cultivar of spring wheat. Trichothecene genotypes were determined for all 11 of the isolates; nine isolates were DON/15ADON, one isolate was DON/3ADON, and one isolate was NIV. All of the isolates produced trichothecene mycotoxins in planta consistent with their trichothecene genotypes. To our knowledge, this is the first report of a NIV isolate of F. graminearum in Virginia, and DON/3ADON genotypes are rare in populations of the fungus recovered from infected wheat plants in the eastern United States. Our data are considered in the context of a new aerobiological framework based on atmospheric transport barriers, which are Lagrangian coherent structures present in the mesoscale atmospheric flow. This framework aims to improve our understanding of population shifts of F. graminearum and develop new paradigms that may link field and atmospheric populations of toxigenic Fusarium spp. in the future.
KeywordsFungi Pathogen Aerosol Wheat Barley Unmanned aerial vehicles Bio-threat Atmospheric modeling Long-distance transport Mycotoxin Atmospheric transport barrier
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