Regional and field-specific factors affect the composition of fusarium head blight pathogens in subtropical no-till wheat agroecosystem of Brazil

Emerson M Del Ponte, Piérri Spolti, Todd J Ward, Larissa B Gomes, Camila P Nicolli, Paulo R Kuhnem, Cleiltan N Silva, Dauri J Tessmann
Phytopathology 2015, 105 (2): 246-54
A multiyear survey of >200 wheat fields in Paraná (PR) and Rio Grande do Sul (RS) states was conducted to assess the extent and distribution of Fusarium graminearum species complex (FGSC) diversity in the southern Brazilian wheat agroecosystem. Five species and three trichothecene genotypes were found among 671 FGSC isolates from Fusarium head blight (FHB)-infected wheat heads: F. graminearum (83%) of the 15-acetyldeoxynivalenol (15-ADON) genotype, F. meridionale (12.8%) and F. asiaticum (0.4%) of the nivalenol (NIV) genotype, and F. cortaderiae (2.5%) and F. austroamericanum (0.9%) with either the NIV or the 3-ADON genotype. Regional differences in FGSC composition were observed, with F. meridionale and the NIV type being significantly (P<0.001) more prevalent in PR (>28%) than in RS (≤9%). Within RS, F. graminearum was overrepresented in fields below 600 m in elevation and in fields with higher levels of FHB incidence (P<0.05). Species composition was not significantly influenced by previous crop or the stage of grain development at sampling. Habitat-specific differences in FGSC composition were evaluated in three fields by characterizing a total of 189 isolates collected from corn stubble, air above the wheat canopy, and symptomatic wheat kernels. Significant differences in FGSC composition were observed among these habitats (P<0.001). Most strikingly, F. meridionale and F. cortaderiae of the NIV genotype accounted for the vast majority (>96%) of isolates from corn stubble, whereas F. graminearum with the 15-ADON genotype was dominant (>84%) among isolates from diseased wheat kernels. Potential differences in pathogenic fitness on wheat were also suggested by a greenhouse competitiveness assay in which F. graminearum was recovered at much higher frequency (>90%) than F. meridionale from four wheat varieties inoculated with an equal mixture of F. graminearum and F. meridionale isolates. Taken together, the data presented here suggest that FGSC composition and, consequently, the trichothecene contamination in wheat grown in southern Brazil is influenced by host adaptation and pathogenic fitness. Evidence that F. meridionale and F. cortaderiae with the NIV genotype are regionally significant contributors to FHB may have significant implications for food safety and the economics of cereal production.

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