Measuring resistance in durum wheat-Zymoseptoria tritici interaction using aggressiveness quantitative traits

Sahbi Ferjaoui1*, Abdennour Sebei2, and Kalthoum Harbaoui3
Phenotyping for quantitative resistance to Septoria tritici blotch (STB), one of the most economically devastating diseases of durum wheat (Triticum durum Desf.) in North African region, is a limiting factor for breeding progress. Here we tested main phenotypic markers of aggressiveness affecting host damage and pathogen reproduction reported in earlier studies for measuring differences in quantitative host resistance. A collection of 11 Tunisian durum wheat genotypes varying in resistance to the pathogen was inoculated by a highly aggressive and virulent isolate of Zymoseptoria tritici in a replicated field and controlled experiments, conducted in 2017-2018 at the experimental station of the Regional Field Crops Research Center of Beja in Tunisia. The severity of infection caused by Z. tritici isolate, including percentage of leaf area covered by chlorotic lesions (PLACCL), percentage of leaf area covered by necrosis (PLACN), and percentage of leaf area covered by pycnidia (PLACP) as well as latent period (LP) and pycnidia density (PYCdens) were assessed visually and quantified. The results showed that there were significant differences in all assessed traits on the tested genotypes and significant positive correlations were obtained between PLACN, PLACP and PYCdens. Similarly, there was a significant negative correlation between LP and these last traits. The PLACP was found as the more reliable trait to discriminate genotypes to different classes of resistance, consistent with the results obtained for the remaining traits. These data suggest that using both necrotic leaf area (PLACN) bearing pycnidia and PYCdens can improve selection for quantitative STB resistance.
Keywords: Aggressiveness, durum wheat, quantitative resistance, selection, Triticum durum, Zymoseptoria tritici.
1University of Jendouba, Regional Field Crops Research Center of Beja (CRRGCB), 9000 Beja, Tunisia.
2University of Carthage, National Institute of Agronomic Research of Tunisia (INRAT), 2080 Ariana, Tunisia.
3University of Carthage, High School of Agriculture of Mateur, Mateur 7030, Tunisia.
*Corresponding author (ferjaouisahbi@yahoo.fr).