European Journal of Plant Pathology

, Volume 132, Issue 3, pp 431–442 | Cite as

Infection process of Fusarium graminearum in oats (Avena sativa L.)

  • Selamawit Tekle
  • Ruth Dill-Macky
  • Helge Skinnes
  • Anne Marte Tronsmo
  • Åsmund Bjørnstad


Fusarium head blight in small grain cereals has emerged as a major problem in the Nordic countries. However, the impact of this disease in oats has been less investigated than in other cereals. For this reason we have studied the infection process (the optimal time of infection and infection pathways) of Fusarium graminearum in oats and its subsequent effects on kernel infection, deoxynivalenol (DON) content and germination capacity. In a field experiment the oat cultivar Morton was spray-inoculated at different developmental stages, and the highest kernel infection and DON content and lowest germination percentage were observed when inoculation took place at anthesis. Field grown oats affected by a natural Fusarium head blight epidemic and spray-inoculated field and greenhouse oats were used to study the infection pathway. Results showed that the fungus entered primarily through the floret apex into the floret cavity, where it could infect via the internal surfaces of the palea, lemma and caryopsis. Both visual symptoms and fungal infections started at the apical portions of the florets and progressed to the basal portions. Hyphae of F. graminearum grew more profusely on the anthers than on other floret parts during initial stages of infection. Disease development within the oat panicle was slow and is primarily by physical contact between adjoining florets, indicating that the long pedicels give Type II resistance in oats.


Fusarium head blight Infection pathway Time of infection 



Fusarium head blight




Days after inoculation



The first author is indebted to the collaborative program between the University of Minnesota and the Norwegian University of Life Sciences for a travel grant, and to Prof. Ruth Dill-Macky for the supervision of her M.Sc. experiments in Saint Paul during the summer in 2008. The authors also acknowledge the financial support of the Norwegian Research Council and the breeding company Graminor to the project Safe Grains: Mycotoxin prevention through resistant wheat and oats (Project number 178273/I10). The authors would also like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments and suggestions on the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© KNPV 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Selamawit Tekle
    • 1
  • Ruth Dill-Macky
    • 2
  • Helge Skinnes
    • 1
  • Anne Marte Tronsmo
    • 1
  • Åsmund Bjørnstad
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Plant and Environmental SciencesNorwegian University of Life SciencesÅsNorway
  2. 2.Department of Plant PathologyUniversity of MinnesotaSt. PaulUSA

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