Long-term relationships between environment and abundance in wheat of Phaeosphaeria nodorum and Mycosphaerella graminicola

M. W. Shaw, S. J. Bearchell, Bruce D.L. Fitt, B. A. Fraaije

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63 Citations (Scopus)


Relationships between weather, agronomic factors and wheat disease abundance were examined to determine possible causes of variability on century time scales.
In archived samples of wheat grain and leaves obtained from the Rothamsted Broadbalk experiment archive (1844-2003), amounts of wheat, Phaeosphaeria nodorum and Mycosphaerella graminicola DNA were determined by quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Relationships between amounts of pathogens and environmental and agronomic factors were examined by multiple regression.
Wheat DNA decayed at approx. 1% yr(-1) in stored grain. No M. graminicola DNA was detected in grain samples. Fluctuations in amounts of P. nodorum in grain were related to changes in spring rainfall, summer temperature and national SO2 emission. Differences in amounts of P. nodorum between grain and leaf were related to summer temperature and spring rainfall. In leaves, annual variation in spring rainfall affected both pathogens similarly, but SO2 had opposite effects. Previous summer temperature had a highly significant effect on M. graminicola. Cultivar effects were significant only at P = 0.1.
Long-term variation in P. nodorum and M. graminicola DNA in leaf and grain over the period 1844-2003 was dominated by factors related to national SO2 emissions. Annual variability was dominated by weather factors occurring over a period longer than the growing season.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-238
Number of pages10
JournalNew Phytologist
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • environmental factors
  • host-pathogen-environment interactions
  • long-term patterns in agronomy
  • pathogen population dynamics
  • pollution
  • wheat septoria diseases


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