In recent years increasing demands and the relatively low-care cultivation of the crop have resulted in an enormous expansion of the acreage of maize in China. However, particularly in China, Fusarium ear rot forms an important constraint to maize production. In this study, we showed that members of both the Fusarium fujikuroi species complex (FFSC) and the Fusarium graminearum species complex are the causal agents of Fusarium ear rot in the main maize producing areas in China. Fumonisin producing Fusarium verticillioides was the most prevalent species, followed by fumonisin producing Fusarium proliferatum and 15-acetyldeoxynivalenol producing F. graminearum. Both Fusarium temperatum and Fusarium boothii were identified for the first time in the colder regions in China, extending their known habitats to colder environments. Mating type analysis of the different heterothallic FFSC species, showed that both types co-occur in each sampling site suggestive of the possibility of sexual recombination. Virulence tests with F. boothii (from maize) and F. graminearum from maize or wheat showed adaptation to the host. In addition, F. graminearum seems to outcompete F. boothii in wheat-maize rotations. Based on our findings and previous studies, we conclude that wheat/maize rotation selects for F. graminearum, while a wheat/rice rotation selects for F. asiaticum. In contrast, F. boothii is selected when maize is cultivated without rotation. A higher occurrence of F. temperatum is observed on maize in colder climatological regions in China, while Fusarium meridionale seems restricted to mountain areas. Each of these species has their characteristic mycotoxin profile and deoxynivalenol and fumonisin are the potential threats to maize production in Northern China.
- fumonisin production
- Fusarium fujikuroi species complex
- Fusarium graminearum species complex
- increasing maize production
- trichothecene production