Plant Pathology Department


Date of this Version



Schisler, D. A., Khan, N. I., Boehm, M. J., and Slininger, P. J. 2002. Greenhouse and field evaluation of biological control of Fusarium head blight on durum wheat. Plant Dis. 86:1350- 1356.


This article is in the public domain and not copyrightable


Fusarium head blight (FHB) is a devastating disease that causes extensive yield and quality losses to wheat and barley. In durum wheat, the pathogen-produced toxin deoxynivalenol (DON) is retained in semolina at ~50%, and the causal agent of FHB, Gibberella zeae, has a strong adverse effect on pasta color. Two bacteria and two yeast strains with known efficacy against G. zeae on hexaploid wheats were produced in liquid culture and assayed on two cultivars of durum wheat in greenhouse bioassays. All antagonists reduced FHB severity on cultivar Renville, and three of the four reduced severity on cultivar Ben, with Bacillus subtilis strain AS 43.3 decreasing FHB severity by as much as 90%. In separate greenhouse bioassays, the carbon: nitrogen ratio of the medium used to produce antagonists did not consistently influence antagonist efficacy. All antagonist/production medium combinations but one were effective in reducing disease on both durum cultivars. Of six antagonists tested at field sites, Cryptococcus sp. OH 71.4 and C. nodaensis OH 182.9 reduced disease severity by as much as 57% in Peoria, IL, while Cryptococcus sp. OH 181.1 reduced disease severity by as much as 59% in a trial at Langdon, ND. Antagonists did not influence the DON content of grain in the Peoria trial. Relative performance indices for four antagonists calculated from greenhouse and field results on the two durum cultivars demonstrated that the bioassay location, but not the cultivar of durum, influenced the relative performance of antagonists. Yeast antagonists OH 71.4, OH 181.1, and OH 182.9 appear to have the highest potential for contributing to the reduction of FHB on durum wheat in the field.