Scientists are currently investigating some recent changes in the fusarium pathogen population — there appears to be increasing incidence of a different, more virulent strain.
The main pathogen strain which can contaminate grain with fungal toxins (mycotoxins) such as deoxynivalenol (DON), also known as vomitoxin, is fusarium graminearum.
The fusarium graminearum pathogen is divided into three chemotypes based on toxin production: DON/15ADON, DON/3ADON and Nivalenol.
Traditionally, it has been the DON/15ADON chemotype that has predominated across Western Canada. More recently scientists have found increased presence of DON/3ADON. This chemotype produces more DON toxin and is more aggressive, causing more severe symptoms on the host.
“Fusarium doesn’t evolve as quickly or in the same way that say, rusts do, but we are investigating what this new chemotype means to agriculture and producers,” says Dr. Jeannie Gilbert, a research scientist at the Cereal Research Centre in Winnipeg. †