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Toxins 2014, 6(4), 1308-1324; doi:10.3390/toxins6041308

Systemic Growth of F. graminearum in Wheat Plants and Related Accumulation of Deoxynivalenol

1,* , 1
1 Institute of Sciences of Food Production, National Research Council (ISPA-CNR), Via Amendola 122/O, Bari 70126, Italy 2 Syngenta Crop Protection Italia, Via Gallarate 139, Milano 20151, Italy 3 Società Italiana Sementi spa, Via Mirandola 5, San Lazzaro di Savena 40068 (BO), Italy
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 24 February 2014 / Revised: 28 March 2014 / Accepted: 31 March 2014 / Published: 10 April 2014
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Fusarium head blight (FHB) is an important disease of wheat worldwide caused mainly by Fusarium graminearum (syn. Gibberella zeae). This fungus can be highly aggressive and can produce several mycotoxins such as deoxynivalenol (DON), a well known harmful metabolite for humans, animals, and plants. The fungus can survive overwinter on wheat residues and on the soil, and can usually attack the wheat plant at their point of flowering, being able to infect the heads and to contaminate the kernels at the maturity. Contaminated kernels can be sometimes used as seeds for the cultivation of the following year. Poor knowledge on the ability of the strains of F. graminearum occurring on wheat seeds to be transmitted to the plant and to contribute to the final DON contamination of kernels is available. Therefore, this study had the goals of evaluating: (a) the capability of F. graminearum causing FHB of wheat to be transmitted from the seeds or soil to the kernels at maturity and the progress of the fungus within the plant at different growth stages; (b) the levels of DON contamination in both plant tissues and kernels. The study has been carried out for two years in a climatic chamber. The F. gramineraum strain selected for the inoculation was followed within the plant by using Vegetative Compatibility technique, and quantified by Real-Time PCR. Chemical analyses of DON were carried out by using immunoaffinity cleanup and HPLC/UV/DAD. The study showed that F. graminearum originated from seeds or soil can grow systemically in the plant tissues, with the exception of kernels and heads. There seems to be a barrier that inhibits the colonization of the heads by the fungus. High levels of DON and F. graminearum were found in crowns, stems, and straw, whereas low levels of DON and no detectable levels of F. graminearum were found in both heads and kernels. Finally, in all parts of the plant (heads, crowns, and stems at milk and vitreous ripening stages, and straw at vitreous ripening), also the accumulation of significant quantities of DON-3-glucoside (DON-3G), a product of DON glycosylation, was detected, with decreasing levels in straw, crown, stems and kernels. The presence of DON and DON-3G in heads and kernels without the occurrence of F. graminearum may be explained by their water solubility that could facilitate their translocation from stem to heads and kernels. The presence of DON-3G at levels 23 times higher than DON in the heads at milk stage without the occurrence of F. graminearum may indicate that an active glycosylation of DON also occurs in the head tissues. Finally, the high levels of DON accumulated in straws are worrisome since they represent additional sources of mycotoxin for livestock.
Keywords: wheat; Fusarium graminearum; seed transmission; systemic growth; deoxynivalenol; deoxynivalenol-translocation; deoxynivalenol-3-glucoside wheat; Fusarium graminearum; seed transmission; systemic growth; deoxynivalenol; deoxynivalenol-translocation; deoxynivalenol-3-glucoside
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Moretti, A.; Panzarini, G.; Somma, S.; Campagna, C.; Ravaglia, S.; Logrieco, A.F.; Solfrizzo, M. Systemic Growth of F. graminearum in Wheat Plants and Related Accumulation of Deoxynivalenol. Toxins 2014, 6, 1308-1324.

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