Evaluation of Pyrenophora tritici-repentis Infection of Wheat Heads
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The incidence of wheat head infection by Pyrenophora tritici-repentis (Ptr), the etiological agent of tan spot disease, was evaluated during grain development in a glasshouse experiment. Heads artificially inoculated with a Ptr spore suspension developed widespread brown spots across the spikelets, and mycelia and conidophores were observed on glumes and awns. Seeds of heavily infected heads were darkened and shrivelled, but no red smudge symptoms were apparent. The recovery rate of Ptr isolates from the inoculated wheat heads was low, and colonies that were re-isolated displayed an irregular morphology with reddish mycelia when grown on agar plates. The presence of Ptr on inoculated wheat heads was assessed directly via PCR detection, and a limitation of Ptr hyphae to proliferate beyond the point of contact of spore inoculum on floret tissues was observed. The systemic transmission of Ptr from infected seeds was minimal; however, saprophytic growth of the pathogen occurred on the senescing leaves of wheat plants grown from inoculated seeds. Thus, even though Ptr seed infection is not as common as foliar infection, infected seeds are still a source of disease inoculum and screening for pathogen contamination is advisable.
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