The soil dwelling fungus ‘take-all’ inflicts devastating stress to the roots of cereals crops worldwide and is a major disease problem in UK wheat crops.However, recent field trial data from Rothamsted Research, an institute of the BBSRC, has demonstrated that farmers could control this devastating disease by selecting wheat cultivars that reduce take-all build up in the soil when grown as a first wheat. Wheat is an important staple crop worth 1.6 Billion a year to the UK economy alone. This work funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the HGCA will help farmers to increase yields, combating global food security and contributing to UK economic growth. Take-all disease, caused by the fungus, Gaeumannomyces graminis var. tritici, reduces grain yield and quality and results in an increased amount of residual applied nitrogen fertiliser left in the soil post-harvest. Despite the use of chemical, biological and cultural control methods the take-all fungus is still one of the most difficult pathogens of wheat to control. The risk of take-all infection in second and third wheat crops is directly linked to the amount of fungus remaining in the soil after the first wheat is harvested. The Rothamsted Research study, published in Plant Pathology, has demonstrated that wheat cultivars differ in their ability to build-up the take-all fungus. Growing a low building cultivar, such as Cadenza, as a first wheat crop can be used to manipulate take-all inoculum levels in the soil resulting in better yields from the second and third wheat crops. Yield increases of up to 2 tonnes per hectare in 2nd wheats have been observed.
Thanks to Rothamsted Research study, UK farmers can now grow wheat cultivars as first wheat crop to control the harmful consequences of take-all disease, which is a major disease problem in UK wheat crops, so they are able to increase grain yield and quality, in turn better combating global food security and contributing to UK economic growth. (57 words)