Crop and Pasture Science Crop and Pasture Science Society
Plant sciences, sustainable farming systems and food quality
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Detection, prevalence and severity of upper canopy infection on mature Brassica napus plants caused by Leptosphaeria maculans in Australia

Susan J. Sprague A G , Stephen J. Marcroft B , Kurt D. Lindbeck C , Andrew H. Ware D , Ravjit K. Khangura E and Angela P. Van de Wouw F
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A CSIRO Agriculture and Food, GPO Box 1700, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia.

B Marcroft Grains Pathology, Natimuk Road, Horsham, Vic. 3400, Australia.

C New South Wales Department of Primary Industries, Pine Gully Road, Wagga Wagga, NSW 2650, Australia.

D South Australian Research and Development Institute, Hindmarsh Street, Port Lincoln, SA 5606, Australia.

E Department of Agriculture and Food, Baron-Hay Court, South Perth, WA 6151, Australia.

F School of BioSciences, University of Melbourne, Royal Parade, Parkville, Vic. 3010, Australia.

G Corresponding author. Email: susan.sprague@csiro.au

Crop and Pasture Science - https://doi.org/10.1071/CP17140
Submitted: 3 April 2017  Accepted: 18 July 2017   Published online: 22 August 2017

Abstract

Blackleg, caused by Leptosphaeria maculans, is the main disease constraint for canola production in Australia. The fungus infects all aboveground and belowground parts of the canola plant. Yield loss in Australia and worldwide is generally associated with cankers at the crown, which arise from leaf infections during the early stages of seedling growth. Infection of flowers, peduncles, siliques, main stems and branches, with resultant lesions and canker formation, are typically uncommon symptoms. We propose the term ‘upper canopy infection’ to encompass symptoms on all of these plant parts because they generally occur together on the same plant and appear after the plant has undergone elongation. Branch and stem lesions observed in a commercial crop in 2010 were confirmed as L. maculans. Since then, assessment of upper canopy symptoms at 25 sites across the canola-producing regions of Australia between 2011 and 2016 show that symptoms are more prevalent, although they differed between sites and seasons. In 2011, symptoms were present at a single site, and this increased to seven sites in 2013 and 23 sites in 2016. Preliminary data indicate that infection arises from both ascospore and pycnidiospore inoculum, and that earlier onset of flowering is a key risk factor for more severe upper canopy infection. Evidence suggests that host genetic resistance may be an effective control for upper canopy infection.

Additional keywords: flower infection, flowering time, Phoma, pod infection, rapeseed.


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