Adaptation of Fusarium Species causing Head Blight to Quantitative Resistance in Wheat: Field Evidence for Increased Aggressiveness in a New Pathogen Population

Nachaat Sakr


The use of quantitatively resistant wheat cultivars is an essential component of a sustainable management strategy of Fusarium head blight (FHB), caused by several Fusarium species. However, little information is available on the variation of aggressiveness of the newly emerging FHB collection compared to old one. It is therefore important to determine to what extent FHB populations can be selected for increased aggressiveness by wheat cultivars with several levels of quantitative resistance. To this end, FHB populations were sampled in 2005 (old population) and in 2015 (new population) from one of the major Syrian wheat production regions, chosen as a location where head blight occurs regularly. New and old FHB isolates were characterized for aggressiveness by single-floret inoculation under controlled conditions on eight durum and bread wheat cultivars of contrasting susceptibility to FHB, and molecularly distinguished using DNA markers. Results showed the new population caused a higher disease severity (ranging from 55% to 67%) than the old population. Thus, their aggressiveness increased between early and late samplings, suggesting that wheat plants cultivated over 10 years selected for increased aggressiveness during epidemics. Our comparative population genetic analyses with analyzed markers showed that the new population had more polymorphic loci compared with the old one. The information obtained in this study indicated that FHB populations adapt to prevailing wheat cultivars, irrespective of their resistance levels, and can therefore overcome polygenic, quantitative resistance. Adaptation to wheat resulting in increased pathogen aggressiveness that was not specific may render quantitative resistance nondurable if not properly managed


Disease management; FHB pathogens; Selection pressure


Abdelmagid, A., A.-M. Amein, M. Hassan and H. E. Hares. 2016. Random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) analysis to determine the genetic variability among virulent and less virulent isolates of Fusarium moniliforme, Fusarium oxysporum and Fusarium solani isolated from infected cotton seedlings. International Journal of Phytopathology, 4: 137-45.

Alazem, M. 2007. Evaluating genetic variation of Fusarium head blight by molecular markers, University of Damascus.

Andrivon, D., F. Pilet, J. Montarry, M. Hafidi, R. Corbière, E. H. Achbani, R. Pellé and D. Ellisseche. 2007. Adaptation of Phytophthora infestans to partial resistance in potato: Evidence from French and Moroccan populations. Phytopathology, 97: 338-43.

Bjor, T. and K. Mulelid. 1991. Differential resistance to tuber late blight in potato cultivars without R-genes. Potato research, 34: 3-8.

Bottalico, A. and G. Perrone. 2002. Toxigenic Fusarium species and mycotoxins associated with head blight in small-grain cereals in Europe. European journal of plant pathology, 108: 611-24.

Cowger, C. and J. K. Brown. 2019. Durability of quantitative resistance in crops: Greater than we know? Annual Review of Phytopathology, 57: 253-77.

Cuomo, C. A., U. Güldener, J.-R. Xu, F. Trail, B. G. Turgeon, A. Di Pietro, J. D. Walton, L.-J. Ma, S. E. Baker and M. Rep. 2007. The Fusarium graminearum genome reveals a link between localized polymorphism and pathogen specialization. Science, 317: 1400-02.

Dangl, J. L. and J. D. Jones. 2001. Plant pathogens and integrated defence responses to infection. Nature, 411: 826-33.

Delmas, C. E., F. Fabre, J. Jolivet, I. D. Mazet, S. Richart Cervera, L. Deliere and F. Delmotte. 2016. Adaptation of a plant pathogen to partial host resistance: Selection for greater aggressiveness in grapevine downy mildew. Evolutionary Applications, 9: 709-25.

Dweba, C., S. Figlan, H. Shimelis, T. Motaung, S. Sydenham, L. Mwadzingeni and T. Tsilo. 2017. Fusarium head blight of wheat: Pathogenesis and control strategies. Crop protection, 91: 114-22.

Fernando, W. D., A. O. Oghenekaro, J. R. Tucker and A. Badea. 2021. Building on a foundation: Advances in epidemiology, resistance breeding, and forecasting research for reducing the impact of Fusarium head blight in wheat and barley. Canadian Journal of Plant Pathology, 43: 495-526.

Fitch, W. M. and E. Margoliash. 1967. Construction of phylogenetic trees: A method based on mutation distances as estimated from cytochrome C sequences is of general applicability. Science, 155: 279-84.

Guo, X., W. D. Fernando and H. Seow-Brock. 2008. Population structure, chemotype diversity, and potential chemotype shifting of Fusarium graminearum in wheat fields of Manitoba. Plant Disease, 92: 756-62.

Laurent, B., M. Moinard, C. Spataro, S. Chéreau, E. Zehraoui, R. Blanc, P. Lasserre, N. Ponts and M. Foulongne-Oriol. 2021. QTL mapping in Fusarium graminearum identified an allele of FgVe1 involved in reduced aggressiveness. Fungal genetics and biology, 153: 103566.

Leach, J., D. Finkelstein and J. Rambosek. 1986. Rapid miniprep of DNA from filamentous fungi. Fungal Genetics Newsletter, 33: 32-33.

Leslie, J. F. and B. A. Summerell. 2006. The Fusarium Laboratory Manual. Blackwell Publishing Professional: Ames, USA.

Ma, L.-J., H. C. Van Der Does, K. A. Borkovich, J. J. Coleman, M.-J. Daboussi, A. Di Pietro, M. Dufresne, M. Freitag, M. Grabherr and B. Henrissat. 2010. Comparative genomics reveals mobile pathogenicity chromosomes in Fusarium. Nature, 464: 367-73.

McDonald, B. A. and C. Linde. 2002. Pathogen population genetics, evolutionary potential, and durable resistance. Annual Review of Phytopathology, 40: 349-79.

Mundt, C. C. 2014. Durable resistance: A key to sustainable management of pathogens and pests. Infection, Genetics and Evolution, 27: 446-55.

Nei, M. and W.-H. Li. 1979. Mathematical model for studying genetic variation in terms of restriction endonucleases. proceedings of the national academy of sciences, 76: 5269-73.

Nelson, E., G. Kuter and H. Hoitink. 1983. Effects of fungal antagonists and compost age on suppression of Rhizoctonia damping-off in container media amended with composted hardwood bark. Journal Series Article, 6: 83.

Parlevliet, J. E. 2002. Durability of resistance against fungal, bacterial and viral pathogens; present situation. Euphytica, 124: 147-56.

Parry, D., P. Jenkinson and L. McLeod. 1995. Fusarium ear blight (scab) in small grain cereals: A review. Plant pathology, 44: 207-38.

Puri, K. D. and S. Zhong. 2010. The 3ADON population of Fusarium graminearum found in North Dakota is more aggressive and produces a higher level of DON than the prevalent 15ADON population in spring wheat. Phytopathology, 100: 1007-14.

Sakr, N. 2019a. Pathogenicity and quantitative resistance in Mediterranean durum and bread wheat cultivars of Syrian origin towards Fusarium head blight agents under controlled conditions. Journal of plant protection research, 59: 451-64.

Sakr, N. 2019b. Quantitative resistance components in wheat plants to Fusarium head blight. The Open Agriculture Journal, 13: 9-18.

Sakr, N. 2020. Conservation of cereal fungi following different methods of preservation for long terms. Pakistan Journal of Phytopathology, 32: 159-68.

Sakr, N. 2022a. Adaptation of phytopathogenic fungi to quantitative host resistance: In vitro selection for greater aggressiveness in Fusarium head blight species on wheat. Cytology and Genetics, 56: 261-72.

Sakr, N. 2022b. Evidence for increased aggressiveness in Fusarium species causing head blight detected using serial passage assays through barley cultivars of contrasted quantitative resistance levels in vitro. Pakistan Journal of Phytopathology, 34: 93-104.

Sakr, N. 2023. Durable genetic plant resistance: A key to sustainable pathogen management. Open Agriculture Journal, 17: e187433152306220.

Sakr, N. and A. Shoaib. 2021. Pathogenic and molecular variation of Fusarium species causing head blight on barley landraces. Acta Phytopathologica et Entomologica Hungarica, 56: 5-23.

Simmonds, N. 1991. Genetics of horizontal resistance to diseases of crops. Biological Reviews, 66: 189-241.

Talas, F. and B. A. McDonald. 2015. Genome-wide analysis of Fusarium graminearum field populations reveals hotspots of recombination. BMC genomics, 16: 1-12.

Villaréal, L. M. and C. Lannou. 2000. Selection for increased spore efficacy by host genetic background in a wheat powdery mildew population. Phytopathology, 90: 1300-06.

Vos, P., R. Hogers, M. Bleeker, M. Reijans, T. v. d. Lee, M. Hornes, A. Friters, J. Pot, J. Paleman and M. Kuiper. 1995. AFLP: A new technique for DNA fingerprinting. Nucleic acids research, 23: 4407-14.

Wang, B., C. Brubaker, W. Tate, M. Woods and J. Burdon. 2008. Evolution of virulence in Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. vasinfectum using serial passage assays through susceptible cotton. Phytopathology, 98: 296-303.

Williams, J. G., A. R. Kubelik, K. J. Livak, J. A. Rafalski and S. V. Tingey. 1990. DNA polymorphisms amplified by arbitrary primers are useful as genetic markers. Nucleic acids research, 18: 6531-35.

Xu, X. and P. Nicholson. 2009. Community ecology of fungal pathogens causing wheat head blight. Annual Review of Phytopathology, 47: 83-103.

Xue, A., K. Armstrong, H. Voldeng, G. Fedak and C. Babcock. 2004. Comparative aggressiveness of isolates of Fusarium spp. causing head blight on wheat in Canada. Canadian Journal of Plant Pathology, 26: 81-88.

Xue, A. G., Y. Chen, K. Seifert, W. Guo, B. A. Blackwell, L. J. Harris and D. P. Overy. 2019. Prevalence of Fusarium species causing head blight of spring wheat, barley and oat in Ontario during 2001–2017. Canadian Journal of Plant Pathology, 41: 392-402.

Full Text: PDF

DOI: 10.33687/phytopath.012.03.4105


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2023 Nachaat Sakr

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.