Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/11/2002
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: During the 1990s, Fusarium head blight caused serious damage to wheat and barley, especially in the Midwestern U.S. As a consequence, scientific research on the disease intensified in efforts to develop resistant varieties and to understand why epidemics develop. As part of this work, the disease is being studied using the microscope to learn how the fungal pathogen (Fusarium graminearum) invades and spreads in wheat and barley spikes. This chapter presents recent research together with older microscope work stretching back 70 years. Included is a detailed description of the flower-like structures of the spike in which grain develops, and the possible routes of entry by the pathogen. Also included are pictures of the fungus pathogen taken by light and electron microscopy as it attempts to enter spike tissues. The chapter provides for the first time, a single reference source which reviews and integrates available information on infection processes in the disease. This information is useful to scientists breeding for improved head blight resistance, to scientists investigating disease epidemics in the field, as well as to scientists investigating basic molecular aspects of interactions between infected spikes and the invading pathogen.
Technical Abstract: Fusarium head blight re-emerged as a devastating disease of wheat and barley in the 1990s in the midwestern U.S. Research efforts to control the disease have been hampered by limited knowledge of how the fungal head blight pathogens infect and damage head tissue and what natural defenses the plant has against attack. This chapter brings together, for the first time, the available information about infection at the tissue and cell levels as well as the associated physiological responses of the plant. Included are histological investigations spanning the last 70 years, which describe the sequence of events leading to death of infected tissues. The role of mycotoxins in pathogenesis is included as well as how resistance is expressed at the cellular level. The chapter is a valuable reference source for investigators of Fusarium blight at both applied and basic levels.