• Effect of nitrogen fertilizer application timing on nitrogen use efficiency and grain yield of winter wheat in Ireland.

      Efretuei, A.; Gooding, M.; White, E.M.; Spink, John; Hackett, Richard (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2016-12-01)
      The objectives of this work were to determine the effects of initiating application of fertilizer nitrogen (N) to winter wheat at different growth stages (GSs) on grain yield and N use efficiency (NUE). A factorial experiment was carried out in two growing seasons (2011 and 2012) with five timings of first N application (GS 24/26 [tillering], GS 30, GS 31, GS 32 or GS 37) and an unfertilized control, two sowing densities (100 and 400 seeds/m2) and a cattle slurry treatment (with or without slurry). The latter was included to simulate variation in soil N supply (SNS). Delaying the first application of N from the tillering stage until GS 30 had no significant effect on grain yield in either year. Further delaying the initial N application until GS 31 caused a significant yield reduction in 2011, in comparison to GS 30 application, but not in 2012. Differences in efficiency of recovery and use of fertilizer N by the crop among the first three application timings were small. There was no evidence to support alteration in the timing of the first application of N in response to low plant density. Slurry application did not influence SNS, so the interaction between SNS and fertilizer N application timing could not be determined. It is concluded that in order to maximise yield and NUE, the first N application should be applied to winter wheat between late tillering and GS 30 and that delaying the first N until GS 31 can lead to yield reductions compared to the yield obtained with earlier application.
    • Genetic Analysis Using a Multi-Parent Wheat Population Identifies Novel Sources of Septoria Tritici Blotch Resistance

      Riaz, Adnan; KockAppelgren, Petra; Hehir, James Gerard; Kang, Jie; Meade, Fergus; Cockram, James; Milbourne, Dan; Spink, John; Mullins, Ewen; Byrne, Stephen; et al. (MDPI AG, 2020-08-04)
      Zymoseptoria tritici is the causative fungal pathogen of septoria tritici blotch (STB) disease of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) that continuously threatens wheat crops in Ireland and throughout Europe. Under favorable conditions, STB can cause up to 50% yield losses if left untreated. STB is commonly controlled with fungicides; however, a combination of Z. tritici populations developing fungicide resistance and increased restrictions on fungicide use in the EU has led to farmers relying on fewer active substances. Consequently, this serves to drive the emergence of Z. tritici resistance against the remaining chemistries. In response, the use of resistant wheat varieties provides a more sustainable disease management strategy. However, the number of varieties offering an adequate level of resistance against STB is limited. Therefore, new sources of resistance or improved stacking of existing resistance loci are needed to develop varieties with superior agronomic performance. Here, we identified quantitative trait loci (QTL) for STB resistance in the eight-founder “NIAB Elite MAGIC” winter wheat population. The population was screened for STB response in the field under natural infection for three seasons from 2016 to 2018. Twenty-five QTL associated with STB resistance were identified in total. QTL either co-located with previously reported QTL or represent new loci underpinning STB resistance. The genomic regions identified and the linked genetic markers serve as useful resources for STB resistance breeding, supporting rapid selection of favorable alleles for the breeding of new wheat cultivars with improved STB resistance.
    • Quantification of In Planta Zymoseptoria tritici Progression Through Different Infection Phases and Related Association with Components of Aggressiveness

      Rahman, Atikur; Doohan, Fiona; Mullins, Ewen; European Union; 674964 (Scientific Societies, 2020-06)
      In planta growth of Zymoseptoria tritici, causal agent of Septoria tritici blotch of wheat, during the infection process has remained an understudied topic due to the long symptomless latent period before the emergence of fruiting bodies. In this study, we attempted to understand the relationship between in planta growth of Z. tritici relative to the primary components of aggressiveness, i.e., latent period and pycnidia coverage in regard to contrasting host resistance. We tested isolates collected from Ireland against the susceptible cultivar Gallant and cultivar Stigg, which has strong partial resistance. A clear isolate−host interaction effect (F = 3.018; P = 0.005, and F = 6.008; P < 0.001) for latent period and pycnidia coverage, respectively, was identified. Furthermore, during the early infection phase of latency from 5 to 11 days postinoculation (dpi), in planta growth rate of fungal biomass was significantly (F = 30.06; P < 0.001) more affected by host resistance than isolate specificity (F = 1.27; P = 0.27), indicating the importance of host resistance in the early infection phase. In planta Z. tritici growth rates in cultivar Gallant spiked between 11 and 16 dpi followed by a continuous fall onward, whereas in cultivar Stigg it was slowly progressive in nature. From correlation and regression analysis, we found that the in planta growth rate preceding the average latent period of cultivar Gallant has more influence on latency duration and pycnidia production. Likewise, correlation between component of aggressiveness and in planta growth rate of pathogen supports our understanding of aggressiveness to be driven by the pathogen’s multiplication capacity within host tissue.
    • Temporal and spatial field evaluations highlight the importance of the presymptomatic phase in supporting strong partial resistance in Triticum aestivum against Zymoseptoria tritici

      Hehir, J. G.; Connolly, C.; O'Driscoll, A.; Lynch, J. P.; Spink, John; Brown, J. K. M.; Doohan, F.; Mullins, Ewen; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; RSF 11S121; et al. (Wiley, 2017-11-24)
      Zymoseptoria tritici, the causal agent of septoria tritici blotch (STB), remains a significant threat to European wheat production with the continuous emergence of fungicide resistance in Z. tritici strains eroding the economic sustainability of wheat production systems. The life cycle of Z. tritici is characterized by a presymptomatic phase (latent period, LP) after which the pathogen switches to an aggressive necrotrophic stage, when lesions bearing pycnidia quickly manifest on the leaf. As minimal knowledge of the possible role of the LP in supporting STB resistance/susceptibility exists, the goal of this study was to investigate the spatial and temporal association between the LP and disease progression across three locations (Ireland – Waterford, Carlow; UK – Norwich) that represent commercially high, medium and low STB pressure environments. Completed over two seasons (2013–2015) with commercially grown cultivars, the potential of the LP in stalling STB epidemics was significant as identified with cv. Stigg, whose high level of partial resistance was characterized by a lengthened LP (c. 36 days) under the high disease pressure environment of Waterford. However, once the LP concluded it was followed by a rate of disease progression in cv. Stigg that was comparable to that observed in the more susceptible commercial varieties. Complementary analysis, via logistic modelling of intensive disease assessments made at Carlow and Waterford in 2015, further highlighted the value of a lengthened LP in supporting strong partial resistance against STB disease of wheat.