EFFECT OF Fusarium graminearum Schwabe ON PHYSIOLOGICAL QUALITY OF SOYBEAN SEEDS AND WHEAT CARYOPSIS IN ARGENTINA

ABSTRACT: F. graminearum is the main causal agent of Head blight in cereals in Argentina. This is a disease that develops during the host floral state. When the reproductive structures in the host are invaded, grains may be shriveled and reduced in weight, causing a decrease in yield. Physiological diagnostic techniques on seeds detect the damages produced by this fungus could be used to take decisions related to the quality of seed lots. The objective of this study was to evaluate the possible physiological damage caused by F. graminearum isolates in soybean seeds and wheat caryopsis. Seeds and caryopsis were obtained from plants exposed to fungal infection and were evaluated under two situations: artificial inoculations under greenhouse conditions and natural infection from fields of Santa Fe Province (33°43'22''S; 62°14'46''W). Seed weight, topographical tetrazolium test, standard germination test, electrical conductivity test and X-ray test were performed in soybean seeds and wheat caryopsis from each treatment. Differential behaviors of F. graminearum strains in susceptible soybean and wheat cultivars under greenhouse conditions revealed specific interactions among soybean and wheat genotypes with this fungus. F. graminearum infection in susceptible cultivars under greenhouse conditions produced a significant decrease in the physiological quality of soybean seed and wheat caryopsis. These behaviors were not detected under field conditions in the evaluated locations. All seed quality tests used in this experiment were useful to show differences in infection in soybean and wheat independently of F. graminearum infection.