Distribution and Biodiversity of Seed-Borne Pathogenic and Toxigenic Fungi of Maize in Egypt and Their Correlations with Weather Variables
M. Shabana, Yasser
M. Ghoneem, Khalid
M. Rashad, Younes
S. Arafat, Nehal
Studies of the biodiversity of plant pathogenic and toxigenic fungi are attracting great attention to improve the predictability of their epidemics and the development of their control programs. Two hundred maize grain samples were gathered from 25 maize-growing governorates in Egypt and 189 samples were processed for the isolation and identification of seed-borne fungal microbiome. Twenty-six fungal genera comprising 42 species were identified according to their morphological characteristics and ITS DNA sequence analysis. Occurrence and biodiversity indi-cators of these fungal species were calculated. Ustilago maydis, Alternaria alternata, Aspergillus flavus, A. niger, Penicillium spp., Cladosporium spp. and Fusarium verticillioides were the highly frequent (>90% for each), recording the highest relative abundance (˃50%). Al-Menia governorate showed the highest species diversity and richness, followed by Sohag, Al-Nobaria and New Valley gov-ernorates. Correlations of 18 fungal species with temperature, relative humidity, precipitation, wind speed, and solar radiation were analyzed using canonical correspondence analysis. Results showed that relative humidity, temperature, and wind speed, respectively, were the most impactful weather variables. However, the occurrence and distribution of these fungi were not clearly grouped into the distinctive climatic regions in which maize crops are grown. Monitoring the occurrence and dis-tribution of the fungal pathogens of maize grains in Egypt will play an important role in predicting their outbreaks and developing appropriate future management strategies. The findings in this study may be useful to other maize-growing countries that have similar climatic conditions.