Diversity of Fusarium head blight populations and trichothecene toxin types reveals regional differences in pathogen composition and temporal dynamics

Amy C. Kelly, Randall M. Clear, Kerry O'Donnell, Susan McCormick, T. Kelly Turkington, Andy Tekauz, Jeannie Gilbert, H. Corby Kistler, Mark Busman, Todd J. Ward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Analyses of genetic diversity, trichothecene genotype composition, and population structure were conducted using 4086 Fusarium graminearum isolates collected from wheat in eight Canadian provinces over a three year period between 2005 and 2007. The results revealed substantial regional differences in Fusarium head blight pathogen composition and temporal population dynamics. The 3ADON trichothecene type consistently predominated in Maritime provinces (91%) over the sampled years, and increased significantly (P< 0.05) between 2005 and 2007 in western Canada, accounting for 66% of the isolates in Manitoba by the end of the sampling period. In contrast, 3ADON frequency was lower (22%, P< 0.001) in the eastern Canadian provinces of Ontario and Québec and did not change significantly between 2005 and 2007, resulting in two distinct longitudinal clines in 3ADON frequency across Canada. Overall, genetic structure was correlated with toxin type, as the endemic population (NA1) was dominated by 15ADON isolates (86%), whereas a second population (NA2) consisted largely of 3ADON isolates (88%). However, the percentage of isolates with trichothecene genotypes that were not predictive of their genetic population assignment (recombinant genotypes) increased from 10% in 2005 to 17% in 2007, indicating that trichothecene type became an increasingly unreliable marker of population identity over time. In addition, there were substantial regional differences in the composition of recombinant genotypes. In western and maritime provinces, NA2 isolates with 15ADON genotypes were significantly more common than NA1 isolates with 3ADON genotypes (P< 0.001), and the reverse was true in the eastern provinces of Québec and Ontario. Temporal trends in recombinant genotype composition also varied regionally, as the percentage of 15ADON isolates with NA2 genetic backgrounds increased approximately three fold in western and Maritime provinces, while the opposite trends were observed in Québec and Ontario. The results indicate that F. graminearum population dynamics in Canada have been influenced by a complex adaptive landscape comprising different regional selective pressures, and do not reflect a simple model of dispersal and integration following the introduction of a novel pathogen population. In addition, we identified F. graminearum strains that produce the recently discovered A-trichothecene mycotoxin (NX-2) for the first time in Canada, representing a significant expansion of the known range of NX-2 producing strains in North America.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)22-31
Number of pages10
JournalFungal Genetics and Biology
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank N. Orwig and T. Usgaard for excellent technical support. This study was partially supported by the United States Department of Agriculture–Agricultural Research Service National Program for Food Safety, and by a grant from the Western Grains Research Foundation. Mention of trade names or commercial products in this article is solely for the purpose of providing specific information and does not imply recommendation or endorsement by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015.


  • 15ADON
  • 3ADON
  • Fusarium head blight
  • NX-2
  • Population genetics
  • Trichothecene

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Diversity of Fusarium head blight populations and trichothecene toxin types reveals regional differences in pathogen composition and temporal dynamics'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this