Detection and differentiation of trichothecene and enniatin-producing Fusarium species on small-grain cereals

  • P. Nicholson
  • D. R. Simpson
  • A. H. Wilson
  • E. Chandler
  • M. Thomsett


A large number of Fusarium species are associated with Fusarium head blight of wheat and other small-grain cereals as well as seedling blight and brown foot rot. Different Fusarium species tend to predominate under different environmental conditions and in different regions. In addition to causing disease, these fungi are of particular significance because they produce a number of mycotoxins including the trichothecenes and enniatins that contaminate infected grain. The nature and amount of the mycotoxins that accumulate will alter according to the species or even the particular isolates involved in the infection. It is highly desirable to be able to analyse such complex infections to determine which species and, preferably, which chemotypes are present, in order to understand the factors that affect the pathogenicity of each species and to evaluate the potential risk for contamination of grain with mycotoxins. This paper reports the development of molecular methods, based upon the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), for the detection of mycotoxigenic fungi. Several of the Fusarium species involved are closely related, making the development of specific assays problematic. We describe the development of primers specific to individual species and discuss how this work provides insight into fungal populations and relates to taxonomic studies. In some instances, it is desirable to detect the presence of potential mycotoxin producers rather than individual fungal species. Generic assays have been produced for several genes involved in trichothecene biosynthesis and for enniatin synthetase in order to permit the detection of species able to produce the associated mycotoxins. Additional work is under way to refine assays to enable detection related to the class of trichothecene and chemotype of isolate because of the potential risk posed to human and animal consumers by different trichothecenes.

Key words

Gibberella head blight toxins wheat 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. Nicholson
    • 1
  • D. R. Simpson
    • 1
  • A. H. Wilson
    • 1
  • E. Chandler
    • 1
  • M. Thomsett
    • 1
  1. 1.John Innes CentreNorwich Research ParkColney, NorwichUK

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