Fusarium pseudograminearum

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symptoms of crown rot in Australian barley (click on image to enlarge it)
Authors: CSIRO
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Fusarium pseudograminearum O'Donnell & T. Aoki 1999

The fungus is wide-spread and causes crown rot of wheat and barley in semi-arid areas. This disease may be also caused by other species. F. pseudograminearum infects the base of the stem which becomes brown and has a reduced water uptake. Infections often occur already during the seedling stage, but the disease usually does not become apparent until the plant develops the ears and whitehead symptoms become visible (incomplete grain fill). Plants are also stunted and grains may become contaminated with toxins like deoxynivalenol (DON).

The disease develops into a major problem in no-till, stubble retained cropping systems in dry regions (e.g. in northern Australia, see Backhouse, 2014). Under these conditions, the hyphae are retained in the stubble and infect the plants of the next cropping cycle. The disease incidence then increases in successive crops until epidemics develop and nearly all plants become infected. The main management approach is to break the cycle with crop rotation. Partially resistant cultivars are also available. Yield losses might approach 10% in conventionally grown wheat under semi-arid conditions.

The biology of the fungus is similar to that of Fusarium graminearum and it has been previously regarded as a variety (group 1) of that species. Conidia are produced by chlamydospores in the soil and spread through the wind. The conidia have a variable length and can be 1-septate (15-30 µm), 3-, 5- or 7-septate (50-100 µm). 5-septate macroconidia are common. Sexual recombination involves the formation of ascospores. However, the teleomorphic stage is rare in the field.

For a review of this species see Kazan & Gardiner (2018).

Synonym:
Gibberella coronicola