Ramularia collo-cygni: the biology of an emerging pathogen of barley


  • Editor: Richard Staples

Correspondence: Dale R. Walters, Crop and Soil Systems Research Group, Scottish Agricultural College, King's Buildings, West Mains Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JG, UK. Tel.: +44 131 535 4020; fax: +44 131 535 4144; e-mail: dale.walters@sac.ac.uk


Ramularia collo-cygni is now recognized as an important pathogen of barley in Northern Europe and New Zealand. It induces necrotic spotting and premature leaf senescence, leading to loss of green leaf area in crops, and can result in substantial yield losses. The fungus produces a number of anthraquinone toxins called rubellins, which act as host nonspecific toxins with photodynamic activity. These toxins induce lipid peroxidation and are possibly the cause of the chlorosis and necrosis observed in leaves infected with R. collo-cygni. The fact that the fungus can remain latent in barley plants until flowering, coupled with its very slow growth in vitro, makes it difficult to detect in crops. As a result, the epidemiology of this pathogen remains poorly understood. However, the recent development of rapid and reliable PCR methods for specific detection of R. collo-cygni offers the prospect of increased understanding of its epidemiology and improved disease control.