Fusarium head blight (FHB) is a devastating disease of wheat. Worldwide, Fusarium graminearum
is the most dominant FHB-causing species. Its most common toxin, deoxynivalenol (DON), impairs food and feed safety and has an enormous economic impact. Agronomic factors such as crop rotation, soil management and host genotype strongly influence the occurrence of F. graminearum
. Infected plant debris from previous crops, on which perithecia and ascospores develop, represent the main source for FHB, and hence, improved cropping systems aim to reduce this inoculum to decrease the infection risk. The best measure to evaluate the disease pressure is spore traps that detect deposited airborne ascospores. Commercial spore traps are expensive and require power sources, thus, they are not suitable for investigations in field experiments with different treatments. In consequence, we developed spore traps containing a Petri dish with Fusarium
-selective agar, protected by aluminum dishes and attached on a wooden board. We compared the data of our low-cost trap with those of a commercial high-throughput jet sampler and obtained equivalent results. In field experiments to compare cropping systems, we observed a high correlation between the DON content in wheat grains and the number of colonies from deposited spores. Our spore trap proved to be a highly valuable tool to not only study FHB epidemiology but also to identify innovative cropping systems with a lower risk for FHB and DON contamination.
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