How Knowledge of Pathogen Population Biology Informs Management of Septoria Tritici Blotch

Phytopathology. 2016 Sep;106(9):948-55. doi: 10.1094/PHYTO-03-16-0131-RVW. Epub 2016 Jul 27.


Zymoseptoria tritici (previously Mycosphaerella graminicola) causes Septoria tritici blotch (STB) on wheat. The population biology of Z. tritici has been exceptionally well characterized as a result of intensive studies conducted over nearly 30 years. These studies provided important insights into the biology, epidemiology and evolutionary history of Z. tritici that will prove useful for management of STB. The well-documented, rapid adaptation of Z. tritici populations to fungicide applications and deployment of wheat cultivars carrying both major gene and quantitative resistance reflects the high evolutionary potential predicted by the large effective population size, high degree of gene flow and high levels of recombination found in field populations of Z. tritici globally. QST studies that assessed the global diversity for several important quantitative traits confirmed the adaptive potential of field populations and laid the groundwork for quantitative trait loci (QTL) mapping studies. QTL mapping elucidated the genetic architecture of each trait and led to identification of candidate genes affecting fungicide resistance, thermal adaptation, virulence, and host specialization. The insights that emerged through these analyses of Z. tritici population biology can now be used to generate actionable disease management strategies aimed at sustainably reducing losses due to STB. The high evolutionary potential found in field populations of Z. tritici requires deployment of a corresponding dynamically diverse set of control measures that integrate cultural, chemical, biological and resistance breeding strategies. In this review, we describe and prioritize STB control strategies based on current knowledge of Z. tritici population biology and propose a future research agenda oriented toward long-term STB management.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Ascomycota / drug effects
  • Ascomycota / genetics*
  • Ascomycota / pathogenicity
  • Ascomycota / physiology
  • Biological Evolution
  • Breeding
  • Disease Resistance*
  • Fungicides, Industrial / pharmacology
  • Genetics, Population*
  • Phenotype
  • Plant Diseases / immunology
  • Plant Diseases / microbiology
  • Plant Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Quantitative Trait Loci / genetics
  • Triticum / genetics
  • Triticum / immunology
  • Triticum / microbiology*
  • Virulence


  • Fungicides, Industrial