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Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1025
Number of pages23
JournalBiology
Volume10
Issue10
Early online date11 Oct 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 11 Oct 2021

Abstract

Simple Summary: Pathogenic fungi cause yield and quality losses and threaten food security. In this study, 198 samples of wheat grains, representing 20 Egyptian wheat cultivars, were collected from 25 wheat-growing governorates across Egypt, and screened for their seed-borne fungi. Twenty genera and 44 species of seed-borne fungi were identified, and their biodiversity indicators and evolutionary relationships were studied based upon similarities in their genetic characteristics. The most frequent fungi were Alternaria alternata and Cladosporium spp., while Tilletia tritici and Ustilago tritici were the most common smut fungi. The highest fungal diversity was recorded for Sinai governorate, while the greatest species richness was recorded in Qena and Sohag governorates. Correlations of the detected fungi with weather variables (temperature, relative humidity, precipitation, wind speed, or solar radiation) were investigated. Our results indicated that the relative humidity was the most influential weather variable, followed by temperature, solar radiation, wind speed, and precipitation, respectively. Despite this study being conducted on the wheat-growing areas in Egypt, our findings are useful for other wheat-growing countries that share the same climatic conditions. The correlation between a given fungus and the climatic variables can be useful in other ecosystems. Abstract: Surveillance investigations for pathogenic and toxigenic fungi are important to refine our understanding of their epidemiology and help in predicting their outbreaks. During 2019, 198 samples of wheat grains were collected from 25 wheat-growing governorates in Egypt to detect and identify seed-borne mycoflora in vitro. Forty-four fungal species belonging to 20 genera were identified. Molecular data for these fungi were analyzed to construct a phylogenetic tree. Occurrence and biodiversity indicators were calculated. Two prevalent pathogens (average incidence > 40%) were Alternaria alternata and Cladosporium spp. Ustilago tritici was present in only seven of the 25 governorates, and less abundant than Tilletia tritici, the causal agent of stinking smut. Sinai governorate recorded the greatest species diversity, while the greatest species richness was in Qena and Sohag governorates. Canonical correspondence analysis of data for 20 fungal genera with temperature, relative humidity, precipitation, wind speed or solar radiation revealed that relative humidity was the most influential weather variable. It showed that occurrence and distribution of the 20 genera corresponded well with three out of four Egyptian climatic regions: Mediterranean, semi-arid, and arid. Knowing pathogen occurrence and distribution in Egypt is the first step to developing future disease management strategies to limit yield losses and improve food security. Despite this study being conducted on the wheat-growing areas in Egypt, our findings are useful for other wheat-growing countries that share the same climatic conditions. The correlation between a given fungus and the climatic variables can be useful in other ecosystems.

Notes

Funding Information: Funding: This work was funded by the Egyptian Science, Technology, and Innovation Funding Authority (STIFA) through project No. 30691 (Egypt–UK Grants), the UK Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy through British Council Newton-Mosharafa (Project No. 332392589) and the UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, Grant/Award Number: BB-SRC/BB/P00489X/1; Innovate UK, Grant/Award Number: 102641. Publisher Copyright: © 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

ID: 26096232