Journal of Applied Microbiology, Vol.126, No.1, 177-190, 2019
The distribution of mycotoxins in a heterogeneous wheat field in relation to microclimate, fungal and bacterial abundance
Aim To observe the variation in accumulation of Fusarium and Alternaria mycotoxins across a topographically heterogeneous field and tested biotic (fungal and bacterial abundance) and abiotic (microclimate) parameters as explanatory variables. Methods and Results We selected a wheat field characterized by a diversified topography, to be responsible for variations in productivity and in canopy-driven microclimate. Fusarium and Alternaria mycotoxins where quantified in wheat ears at three sampling dates between flowering and harvest at 40 points. Tenuazonic acid (TeA), alternariol (AOH), alternariol monomethyl ether (AME), tentoxin (TEN), deoxynivalenol (DON), zearalenone (ZEN) and deoxynivalenol-3-Glucoside (DON.3G) were quantified. In canopy temperature, air and soil humidity were recorded for each point with data-loggers. Fusarium spp. as trichothecene producers, Alternaria spp. and fungal abundances were assessed using qPCR. Pseudomonas fluorescens bacteria were quantified with a culture based method. We only found DON, DON.3G, TeA and TEN to be ubiquitous across the whole field, while AME, AOH and ZEN were only occasionally detected. Fusarium was more abundant in spots with high soil humidity, while Alternaria in warmer and drier spots. Mycotoxins correlated differently to the observed explanatory variables: positive correlations between DON accumulation, tri 5 gene and Fusarium abundance were clearly detected. The correlations among the others observed variables, such as microclimatic conditions, varied among the sampling dates. The results of statistical model identification do not exclude that species coexistence could influence mycotoxin production. Conclusions Fusarium and Alternaria mycotoxins accumulation varies heavily across the field and the sampling dates, providing the realism of landscape-scale studies. Mycotoxin concentrations appear to be partially explained by biotic and abiotic variables. Significance and Impact of the Study We provide a useful experimental design and useful data for understanding the dynamics of mycotoxin biosynthesis in wheat.