Abstract

Occasionally, high mycotoxin levels are observed in Norwegian oat grain lots. The development of moderate resistant oat cultivars is therefore highly valued in order to increase the share of high quality grain into the food and feed industry. The Norwegian SafeOats project (2016-2020) aims to develop resistance screening methods to facilitate the phase-out of Fusarium-susceptible oat germplasm. Furthermore, SafeOats will give new insight into the biology of F. langsethiae and HT2+T2 accumulation in oats. The relative ranking of oat varieties according to F. graminearum/DON versus F. langsethiae/HT2+T2 content has been explored in naturally infested as well as in inoculated field trials. Routine testing of the resistance to F. graminearum in oat cultivars and breeding lines has been conducted in Norway since 2007. We are currently working on ways to scale up the inoculum production and fine tune the methodology of F. langsethiae inoculation of field trials to be routinely applied in breeding programs. Through greenhouse studies, we have analysed the content of Fusarium DNA and mycotoxins in grains of selected oat varieties inoculated at different development stages. Furthermore, we are studying the transcriptome during F. langsethiae and F. graminearum infestation of oats. The project also focus on the occurrence of F. langsethiae in oat seeds and possible influence of the fungus on seedling development in a selection of oat varieties. On average, the fungus was observed on 5% of the kernels in 168 seed lots tested during 2016-2018. No indication of transmission of F. langsethiae from germinating seed to seedlings was found in a study with germination of naturally infected seeds. So far, the studies have shown that the ranking of oat varieties according to HT2+T2 content in non-inoculated field trials resembles the ranking observed in inoculated field trials. The ranking of oat varieties according to DON content is similar in non-inoculated and F. graminearum inoculated field trials. However, the ranking of oat varieties according to DON content does not resemble the ranking for HT2+T2. The results from SafeOats will benefit consumers nationally and internationally by providing tools to increase the share of high quality grain into the food and feed industry. The project is financed by The Foundation for Research Levy on Agricultural Products/Agricultural Agreement Research Fund/Research Council of Norway with support from the industry partners Graminor, Lantmännen, Felleskjøpet Agri, Felleskjøpet Rogaland & Agder, Fiskå Mølle Moss, Norgesmøllene, Strand Unikorn/Norgesfôr and Kimen Seed Laboratory.

Abstract

High concentrations of the mycotoxins HT-2 and T-2 (HT2 + T2), primarily produced by Fusarium langsethiae, have occasionally been detected in Norwegian oat grains. In this study, we identified weather variables influencing accumulation of HT2 + T2 in Norwegian oat grains. Oat grain samples from farmers’ fields were collected together with weather data (2004–2013). Spearman rank correlation coefficients were calculated between the HT2 + T2 contamination in oats at harvest and a range of weather summarisations within estimated phenological windows of growth stages in oats (tillering, flowering etc.). Furthermore, we developed a mathematical model to predict the risk of HT2 + T2 in oat grains. Our data show that adequate predictions of the risk of HT2 + T2 in oat grains at harvest can be achieved, based upon weather data observed during the growing season. Humid and cool conditions, in addition to moderate temperatures during booting, were associated with increased HT2 + T2 accumulation in harvested oat grains, whereas warm and humid weather during stem elongation and inflorescence emergence, or cool weather and absence of rain during booting reduced the risk of HT2 + T2 accumulation. Warm and humid weather immediately after flowering increased the risk, while moderate to warm temperatures and absence of rain during dough development, reduced the risk of HT2 + T2 accumulation in oat grains. Our data indicated that HT2 + T2 contamination in oats is influenced by weather conditions both pre- and post-flowering. These findings are in contrast with a previous study examining the risk of deoxynivalenol contamination in oat reporting that toxin accumulation was mostly influenced by weather conditions from flowering onwards.

Abstract

High concentrations of the mycotoxin deoxynivalenol (DON), produced by Fusarium graminearum have occurred frequently in Norwegian oats recently. Early prediction of DON levels is important for farmers, authorities and the Cereal Industry. In this study, the main weather factors influencing mycotoxin accumulation were identified and two models to predict the risk of DON in oat grains in Norway were developed: (1) as a warning system for farmers to decide if and when to treat with fungicide, and (2) for authorities and industry to use at harvest to identify potential food safety problems. Oat grain samples from farmers’ fields were collected together with weather data (2004–2013). A mathematical model was developed and used to estimate phenology windows of growth stages in oats (tillering, flowering etc.). Weather summarisations were then calculated within these windows, and the Spearman rank correlation factor calculated between DON-contamination in oats at harvest and the weather summarisations for each phenological window. DON contamination was most clearly associated with the weather conditions around flowering and close to harvest. Warm, rainy and humid weather during and around flowering increased the risk of DON accumulation in oats, as did dry periods during germination/seedling growth and tillering. Prior to harvest, warm and humid weather conditions followed by cool and dry conditions were associated with a decreased risk of DON accumulation. A prediction model, including only pre-flowering weather conditions, adequately forecasted risk of DON contamination in oat, and can aid in decisions about fungicide treatments.