The development of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) cultivars resistant to Fusarium head blight (FHB) (caused by Fusarium graminearum Schwabe) requires screening methodologies that accurately characterize reaction to this disease. The objectives of this study were (i) to characterize the stability of cultivars for their FHB reaction and (ii) to define an optimum resource allocation for FHB evaluation. Fourteen cultivars were evaluated in FHB-screening nurseries at two locations across a 4-yr period. Field data were used to calculate disease incidence (INC) as the frequency of symptomatic spikes and disease index (DIS) as the mean disease score of all spikes. FHB reaction also was evaluated on harvested grain as percent visually scabby kernels (VSK) and deoxynivalenol (DON) concentration. Significant differences among cultivars for all FHB parameters were found in each environment. Pearson correlation coefficients among FHB parameters were positive and highly significant, ranging from 0.32 between INC and DON to 0.72 between INC and DIS. Spearman rank correlation coefficients for yearly cultivar rankings and Kendall's coefficient of concordance were high, indicating similarity of the rankings of the tested cultivars in different environments. Visually scabby kernels was the FHB parameter with highest similarity for cultivar ranking across environments. Most of the cultivars, including susceptible ones, expressed stability for FHB reaction. Optimum resource allocation for DIS was most affected by the number of environments with three being the minimum to accurately characterize a genotype's resistance level. Using more than three replications or scoring more than 10 spikes per plot had little practical value in characterizing FHB reaction.
Copyright 2008 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.