Fusarium Head Blight

Fusarium Head Blight in winter wheat: interaction with cereal insects

An important insect on winter wheat is the English grain aphid (Sitobion avenae) known to cause damage by sucking nutrients from the plant. This aphid prefers the ears of wheat which can also be infected by Fusarium Head Blight (FHB). This disease is caused by up to 17 different Fusarium species and is the best known model system involving a toxigenic plant pathogen. Within the FHB disease complex Fusarium graminearum (Fg) is the most common causal agent of FHB in Europe and producer of the trichothecene toxin deoxynivalenol (DON). DON is one of the few mycotoxins of which the function is partially unraveled and is known to contribute to the virulence of the pathogen.
The main goal of the project is to investigate the interactions between the fungus Fg (and DON) and aphids on winter wheat. The research questions contain the performance of these insects in the presence of DON, behaviour of aphids using olfactometry and also includes field trials. Another part elaborates on different insect feeding damages (aphids and orange wheat blossom midges) influencing the Fg penetration in plant tissue.

Contact: Nathalie Dezutter
Funding: IWT
Supervisors: Prof. dr. ir. G.Haesaert, Prof. dr. ir. G. Smagghe
Co-supervisors: Dr. ir. K. Audenaert
Period: 2011-2015
De Zutter N., Audenaert K., Haesaert G., Smagghe G. (2012). Preference of cereal aphids for different varieties of winter wheat. Arthropod-Plant Interactions: Volume 6, Issue 3 (2012), Page 345-350