Effective control of Leptosphaeria maculans increases importance of L. biglobosa as a cause of phoma stem canker epidemics on oilseed rape
Jonathan S West
BACKGROUND: Phoma stem canker is a damaging disease of oilseed rape, caused by two related fungal species, Leptosphaeria maculans and L. biglobosa. However, previous work has mainly focussed on L. maculans and there has been little work on L. biglobosa. This work provides evidence of the importance of L. biglobosa to stem canker epidemics in the UK. RESULTS: Quantification of L. maculans and L. biglobosa DNA using species-specific quantitative PCR showed that L. biglobosa caused both upper stem lesions and stem base cankers on nine oilseed rape cultivars in the UK. Upper stem lesions were mainly caused by L. biglobosa. For stem base cankers, there was more L. maculans DNA than L. biglobosa DNA in the susceptible cultivar Drakkar, while there was more L. biglobosa DNA than L. maculans DNA in cultivars with the resistance gene Rlm7 against L. maculans. Frequency of L. biglobosa detected in stem base cankers increased from 14% in 2000 to 95% in 2013. Ascospores of L. biglobosa and L. maculans were mostly released on the same days and the number of L. biglobosa ascospores in air samples increased from the 2010/2011 to 2012/2013 growing seasons. CONCLUSION: Effective control of L. maculans increased infection by L. biglobosa, causing severe upper stem lesions and stem base cankers, leading to yield losses. The importance of L. biglobosa to phoma stem canker epidemics can no longer be ignored. Effective control of phoma stem canker epidemics needs to target both L. maculans and L. biglobosa.