A Model of the Effect of Pseudothecia on Genetic Recombination and Epidemic Development in Populations of Mycosphaerella graminicola

Phytopathology. 2001 Mar;91(3):240-8. doi: 10.1094/PHYTO.2001.91.3.240.


ABSTRACT It is generally agreed that ascospores are the origin of primary infections for the disease septoria tritici blotch of wheat caused by the fungus Mycosphaerella graminicola (anamorph Septoria tritici). The epidemic during the growing season was previously ascribed to the asexual pycni-diospores dispersed over short distances by rain splash, but recent observations suggest that the airborne ascospores also may play a role. As a consequence, the composition of the pathogen population over the growing season may change through genetic recombination. In an attempt to resolve the relative importance of the two spore types to the epidemic over the growing season, a model simulating disease caused by both types of spores was constructed and analyzed. The conclusion from the analysis of this model is that sexual recombination will affect the genetic composition of the population during a growing season. A considerable proportion of spores released at the end of the growing season may be sexual descendants of the initial population. However, ascospores are unlikely to affect the severity of the epidemic during the growing season. This is due to the much longer latent period for pseudothecia compared with pycnidia, resulting in ascospores being produced too late to influence the epidemic.