Variation in the reaction of cereal cultivars to crown rot caused by Fusarium spp., in particular Fusarium pseudograminearum, was identified over 50 yrs ago, however the parameters and pathways of infection by F. pseudograminearum remain poorly understood. Seedlings of wheat, barley and oat genotypes that differ in susceptibility to crown rot were inoculated with a mixture of F. pseudograminearum isolates. Seedlings were harvested from 7 to 42 days after inoculation and expanded plant parts were rated for severity of visible disease symptoms. Individual leaf sheaths were placed onto nutrient media and fungal colonies emerging from the leaf sheathes were counted to estimate the degree of fungal spread within the host tissue. Significant differences in both the timing and the severity of disease symptoms were observed in the leaf sheath tissues of different host genotypes. Across all genotypes and plant parts examined, the development of visible symptoms closely correlated with the spread of the fungus into that tissue. The degree of infection of the coleoptile and sub-crown internode varied between genotypes, but was unrelated to the putative resistance of the host. In contrast leaf sheath tissues of the susceptible barley cv. Tallon and bread wheat cv. Puseas scored higher disease ratings and consistently showed faster, earlier spread of the fungus into younger tissues than infections of the oat cv. Cleanleaf or the wheat lines 2–49 and CPI 133814. While initial infections usually spread upwards from near the base of the first leaf sheath, the pathogen did not appear to invade younger leaf sheaths only from the base, but rather spread laterally across from older leaf sheaths into younger, subtended leaf sheaths, particularly as disease progressed. Early in the infection of each leaf sheath, disease symptoms in the partially resistant genotypes were less severe than in susceptible genotypes, however as infected leaf sheaths aged, differences between genotypes lessened as disease symptoms approached maximum values. Hence, while visual scoring of disease symptoms on leaf sheaths is a reliable comparative measure of the degree of fungal infection, differences between genotypes in the development of disease symptoms are more reliably assessed using the most recently expanded leaf sheaths.
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The authors would like to express their thanks to Kerry Bell (DEEDI, Toowoomba) for assistance with data analysis and presentation, and to Dr Stephen Neate for his critical reading of the manuscript. This study was supported by a Grains Research & Development Corporation PhD Scholarship to CDP.
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Percy, C.D., Wildermuth, G.B. & Sutherland, M.W. Symptom development proceeds at different rates in susceptible and partially resistant cereal seedlings infected with Fusarium pseudograminearum . Australasian Plant Pathol. 41, 621–631 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13313-012-0146-2
- Disease resistance
- Crown rot
- Disease screening