Evidence for seed transmission and symptomless growth of Ramularia collo-cygni in barley (Hordeum vulgare)



Ramularia collo-cygni (Rcc) is becoming an increasing problem for barley growers across Europe. However, the life cycle of the pathogen is only slowly being elucidated. In this study, Rcc DNA was detected in a number of harvested seed samples from 1999 to 2010, with mean levels peaking in winter barley samples in 2009. A number of experiments were carried out to determine whether the pathogen could move from barley seed to seedlings, and also from seed through the developing plant and into the subsequent generation of seed, both in controlled experiments and in field trials. Results from testing of seed indicated that the fungus is widespread at the end of the growing season in harvested grain samples and can be transmitted to developing plants from infected seed stock. Examination of infected seedlings did not reveal the presence of spores but fungal structures were found within the leaf. The location of the fungus within seed was examined, with Rcc DNA found in both embryo and non-embryo tissue. The implications for barley production of the pathogen being seedborne are discussed.