|Abstract in English:|
The objective was to quantitatively document the pathogen community associated with the Fusarium head blight complex in Italian wheat. The observational study was prompted by increased concerns about mycotoxin contamination coupled with a surge in organically grown wheat. During the three-year survey (2004 to 2006) in three geopolitically defined zones (north, centre, south), seedborne pathogens associated with Fusarium head blight in organic bread and durum wheat were assayed by the freezing blotter method and identified to species based on morphological features. The four most abundant species overall, in order from highest to lowest, were Fusarium poae, Microdochium nivale, F. verticillioides and F. graminearum. Environment was more influential than wheat cultivar in determining the variances in seed infestation counts. Counts of infested seeds were higher (and more variable) in the north and centre zones than in the south zone. The odds of observing any seed infestation was significantly higher in both the north and centre zones (compared with the south zone) for F. avenaceum, F. graminearum, F. poae, and M. nivale in durum wheat. There was a significant nonlinear relationship between seed infestation prevalence and incidence, with evident separation of species along the prevalence-incidence curve. Species co occurrence was observed, but associations shifted with wheat type, over years, and among zones. F. poae was not positively associated with any other species.