The use of thermography as a means of crop water status estimation is based on the assumption that a sufficient amount of soil moisture enables plants to transpire at potential rates resulting in cooler canopy than the surrounding air temperature. The same principle is applied in this study where the crop transpiration changes occur because of the fungal infection. The field experiment was conducted where 25 wheat genotypes were infected with Zymoseptoria tritici
. The focus of this study was to predict the onset of the disease before the visual symptoms appeared on the plants. The results showed an early significant increase in the maximum temperature difference within the canopy from 1 to 7 days after inoculation (DAI). Biotic stress associated with increasing level of disease can be seen in the increasing average canopy temperature (ACT) and maximum temperature difference (MTD) and decreasing canopy temperature depression (CTD). However, only MTD (p
≤ 0.01) and CTD (p
≤ 0.05) parameters were significantly related to the disease level and can be used to predict the onset of fungal infection on wheat. The potential of thermography as a non-invasive high throughput phenotyping technique for early fungal disease detection in wheat was evident in this study.
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