The effect of climate change in the anthesis of winter wheat in the United Kingdom and the resulting impact on fussarium ear blight incidence

Fussarium ear blight is one of several diseases that affect the winter wheat crop cultivated in the United Kingdom. Madgwick et al. (2010) investigated the impact of climatic changes on the flowering period, or the anthesis, of the winter wheat and the effect this anthesis change has on fussarium ear blight incidence. The authors researched this question by constructing two models: one that projects anthesis dates, also referred to as the Sirius Model, and another that projects fussarium ear blight. To develop the Sirius model, Madgwick et al. gathered weather parameters as well as sowing dates for the wheat. In order to create the fussarium ear blight model, the researchers observed weather parameters in addition to the observed anthesis dates. The research showed that climatic changes will progressivly shorten the anthesis date for the wheat and this in effect will increase the incidence of fussarium ear blight. The increase in infection can ultimately have a significant impact on this crop’s availability; therefore, Madgwick et al. suggest further research.—Daniela Hernández
Madgwick, J., West, J., White, R., Semenov, M., Townsend, J., Turner, J., Fitt, B., 2010. Impacts of climate change on wheat anthesis and fussarium ear blight in the UK. European Journal of Plant Pathology published ahead of print January 04, 2011,doi:10.1007/s10658-010-9739-1

Madgwick et al. created a model, known as the Sirius model, based on different weather and sowing parameters to predict anthesis dates of winter wheat in the United Kingdom. The specific weather data gathered to extrapolate the model were temperature, rainfall, and solar radiation, measured in ˚C, mm, and MJ d¯1 respectively. The researchers gathered the weather data from several weather stations to complete the gaps of missing information. Sowing dates for the winter wheat were also collected. The predicted anthesis dates based on this model were then plotted against observable anthesis dates to find the correlation, if any, between these two sets of data. The observable anthesis dates were based on information from the time period of 2003 to 2008 for two regions: southern England and northern England. The plotted data showed that there was a general correlation between the predicted anthesis dates based on the Sirius model and the actual observed anthesis dates, thus validating the purposefulness of the model.
          In conjunction with the Sirius model, the authors also created a model for fussarium ear blight in winter wheat grown in the United Kingdom. Based on similar parameters used for the anthesis dates, the weather data investigated to create the predictions were: minimum and maximum daily temperatures (˚C) and total rainfall (mm). Additionally, the observed anthesis dates for crops in northern and southern England were gathered. Using these sets of data, and an equation derived by the researchers, a model was created for the prediction of winter wheat crops infected by fussarium ear blight. The authors then compared these predictions with the actual observed cases of the crop disease during the time period of 2004 to 2008. The comparisons did not show an immediate relationship; however, the authors attribute this to the fact that there were some inconsistencies in the weather data that this model could not mitigate. Moreover, the researchers note that this model can still be useful in showing some general trends for projections of the impact of climate change on fussarium ear blight.
          Both the Sirius model and the fussarium ear blight model were used to extrapolate predictions for the future. The authors found that the dates of anthesis will become increasingly earlier throughout the United Kingdom; their model projects 11–15 day earlier anthesis dates. Of significant interest is the fact that the impact of climatic change will ultimately be larger in the southern regions of the United Kingdom than the northern regions. The fussarium ear blight model predicts an increase in crop disease infection caused by the shortening of the anthesis date. It also predicts that by the year 2050, the severity of fussarium ear blight will be greatest in the southern regions of England.
          With their projections of faster anthesis dates of winter wheat based on climatic changes, and the resulting increase in percentage of crop infection by fussarium ear blight, the authors suggest further research in this topic. In light of issues related to food security, they ultimately validate the importance of the construction of models that demonstrate the relationship between weather parameters and disease infection on crops.

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