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The role of conidia in the dispersal of Ascochyta rabiei

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Ascochyta rabiei asexual spores (conidia) were assumed to spread over short distances (~10 m) in a combination of rain and strong wind. The potential distance of conidial spread was investigated in three rainfall and three sprinkler irrigation events. Chickpea trap plants were distributed at the distances of 0, 10, 25, 50 and 75 m from infected chickpea plots before scheduled irrigation and forecast rainfall events. Trap plants were transferred to a controlled temperature room (20 °C) for 48 h (100% humidity) after being exposed in the field for 2–6 days for rainfall events, and for 1 day for irrigation events. After a 48 h incubation period, trap plants were transferred to a glasshouse (20 °C) to allow lesion development. Lesions on all plant parts were counted after 2 weeks, which gave an estimate of the number of conidia released and the distance travelled. Trap plants at all distances were infected in all sprinkler irrigation and rainfall events. The highest number of lesions on trap plants were recorded closest to the infected plots –the numbers decreased as the distance from the infected plots increased. There was a significant (p < 0.05) relationship between the amount of rainfall and the number of lesions recorded. A generalised additive model was developed that efficiently described spatial patterns of conidial spread. With further development, the model can be used to predict the spread of A. rabiei. This is the first systematic study to show that conidia distribute A. rabiei over longer distances than previously reported.

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Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), Australia, provided financial assistance in this work through the project USQ-1903-003RTX. Agriculture Victoria and GRDC provided financial assistance in this work through their co-investment projects DAV00150 and DJP1097-001RTX.

We thankfully acknowledge Jason Brand and his team for trial sites management. We thank Andrew Hallet for technical support and assistance with field work. We also thank Art Diggle for detailed discussions.

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Correspondence to Ihsanul Khaliq.

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Khaliq, I., Fanning, J., Melloy, P. et al. The role of conidia in the dispersal of Ascochyta rabiei. Eur J Plant Pathol 158, 911–924 (2020).

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