The main causative agents of Fusarium head blight in central Europe are Fusarium graminearum and F. culmorum. We examined the mycotoxin producing ability, aggressiveness and molecular variability of F. graminearum isolates. Altogether twenty-six Hungarian, three Austrian isolates and representatives of eight species identified in the F. graminearum species complex were involved in this study. Mycotoxin producing abilities of the isolates were tested by GC-MS and HPLC. The central European isolates were found to belong to chemotype I (producing deoxynivalenol). Most isolates produced more 15-acetyl- deoxynivalenol than 3-acetyl-deoxynivalenol suggesting that they belong to chemotype Ib. All F. grami- nearum isolates were found to be highly pathogenic in in vitro aggressiveness tests. Phylogenetic analysis of random amplified polymorphic DNA profiles, and restriction profiles of the intergenic spacer region of the ribosomal RNA gene cluster of the isolates allowed clustering of the central European isolates into 17 and 16 haplotypes, respectively. When RAPD and IGS-RFLP data were combined, almost every single central European F. graminearum isolate could be differentiated (27/29 haplotypes). Sequence analysis of a putative reductase gene of some isolates was also performed. Based on molecular data, the majority of the central European isolates belonged to F. graminearum sensu stricto characteristic to the northern hemisphere, with the exception of one Hungarian isolate, which was not related to any known species of the F. graminearum species complex based on sequence data. The taxonomic assignment of two other Hungarian isolates, previously suggested as belonging to F. boothii based on mitochondrial DNA restriction profiles, was supported by sequence analysis.
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