Soil salinity exacerbates crown rot in wheat

  • Rosemary Helen Smith
  • Daniel Hüberli
  • Darshan Lal SharmaEmail author
  • Mario Francesco D’Antuono
Research Note


Crown rot of wheat (Fusarium pseudograminearum) and dryland salinity cause significant economic losses to the Australian grains industry especially under water stressed conditions during grain filling, but association between them has not been previously reported. We collected opportunistic data on electrical conductivity (EC) and crown rot disease assessments in a replicated wheat germplasm field experiment at Nangeenan, a low rainfall area of Western Australia (WA). A positive correlation (r = 0.63, P < 0.001, df = 28) was found between crown rot index and the composite measure of salinity, computed as the log10 (product of EC values at depths). The simple linear relationship above can be further improved by fitting different intercepts and common slopes for each variety (adjusted R2 = 0.54). These observations indicate that crown rot symptoms are more severe in saline soils and have implications for the practical advice given to growers as well as for the planning of research experiments on biotic and abiotic factors.


Fusarium crown rot Soil salinity Wheat soilborne disease 



Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) and Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) co-invested in projects UA00159 “Improving wheat yield on sodic-magnesic dispersive soils” and DAN00175 “National crown rot epidemiology and management program.” We thank Kris Gajda for basal browning assessments, and Bec Swift and Kylie Chambers for plant sampling and initial field plot assessments. Land for experimental site and assistance in implementing field experiments by cooperating farmer Ian Sutherland of Nangeenan is gratefully appreciated.


  1. Alahmad S, Simpfendorfer S, Bentley AR, Hickey LT (2018) Crown rot of wheat in Australia: Fusarium pseudograminearum taxonomy, population biology and disease management. Australas Plant Pathol 47:285–299CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Backhouse D, Burgess LW (2002) Climatic analysis of the distribution of Fusarium graminearum, F. pseudograminearum and F. culmorum on cereals in Australia. Australas Plant Pathol 314:321–327CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Chekali S, Gargouri S, Paulitz T, Nicol JM, Rezgui M, Nasraoui B (2011) Effects of Fusarium culmorum and water stress on durum wheat in Tunisia. Crop Prot 306:718–725CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Forknall CR, Simpfendorfer S, Kelly AM (accepted 2018) Using yield response curves to measure variation in the tolerance and resistance of wheat cultivars to fusarium crown rot. Phytopathology.
  5. Hollaway GJ, Evans ML, Wallwork H, Dyson CB, McKay AC (2013) Yield loss in cereals, caused by Fusarium culmorum and F. pseudograminearum, is related to fungal DNA in soil prior to planting, rainfall, and cereal type. Plant Dis 97:977–982CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Hüberli D, Evans M, Hollaway G, Simpfendorfer S, Milgate A, Heuston P (2016) Tips and Tactics for crown rot in cereals, western region. Grain Research and Development Corporation, Canberra.
  7. Hüberli D, Gajda K, Connor M, Van Burgel A (2017) Choosing the best yielding wheat and barley variety under high crown rot. In: 2017 grains research updates, Perth, Western Australia, 27–28 February.
  8. Raper R, Speed R, Simons J, Kendle A, Blake A, Ryder A, Smith R, Stainer G, Bourke L (2014) Groundwater trend analysis for south-west Western Australia 2007–2012. Resource management technical report 388, Department of Agriculture and Food, Western AustraliaGoogle Scholar
  9. Sharma DL (2017) Guidelines for wheat yield loss. Agricultural Science (Ag Institute Australia) 29:28–39Google Scholar
  10. Sharma DL, D’Antuono MF, Harries M, Ryan K (2018) MyPaddock. Available at:
  11. Shaw RJ (1999) Soil salinity – electrical conductivity and chloride. In: Peverill KI, Sparrow LA, Reuter DJ (eds) Soil analysis: an interpretation manual. CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne, pp 129–146Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Crown 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Primary Industries and Regional DevelopmentMerredinAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Primary Industries and Regional DevelopmentSouth PerthAustralia
  3. 3.Department of Primary Industries and Regional DevelopmentNorthamAustralia

Personalised recommendations