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Keywords:

  • climate change;
  • degree-days;
  • Leptosphaeria maculans/Phoma lingam;
  • Sclerotinia sclerotiorum ;
  • soil warming;
  • Verticillium longisporum

Abstract

Global warming will influence the growth and development of both crops and pathogens. The aims of this study were to investigate potential effects of future warming on oilseed rape growth and the epidemiology of the three economically important pathogens Verticillium longisporum, Sclerotinia sclerotiorum, and Leptosphaeria maculans (anamorph: Phoma lingam). We utilized climate chambers and a soil warming facility, where treatments represented regional warming scenarios for Lower Saxony, Germany, by 2050 and 2100, and compared results of both approaches on a thermal time scale by calculating degree-days (dd) from day of sowing, December 1st and March 1st until sampling, the latter correlating best with disease progress. Regression analysis showed that plant growth and growth stages in spring responded almost linearly to increasing thermal time until 1000–1500 dd. Colonization of plant tissue by V. longisporum showed an exponential increase when exceeding 1300–1500 dd and reaching plant growth stage BBCH 74/75 (pod development). V. longisporum colonization of plants may be advanced, potentially leading to higher inoculum densities after harvest and increased economic importance of this pathogen under future warming. Sclerotia germination of S. sclerotiorum reached its maximum at 600–900 dd. Advance of these critical degree-days may lead to earlier apothecia production, potentially advancing the infection window, whereas the future importance of S. sclerotiorum may remain constant. Severity of phoma crown canker increased linearly with increasing thermal time, but showed also large variation in response to the warming scenarios, suggesting that factors such as canopy microclimate in fall or leaf shedding over winter may play a bigger role for L. maculans infection and disease severity than higher soil temperatures. Thermal time was a suitable tool to combine and integrate data on biological responses to soil and air temperature increases from climate chamber and field experiments.