Fusarium infection and trichothecenes in barley and its comparison with wheat

Janssen, Esmee; Liu, C.; Fels, H.J. van der


Barley is a small-grain cereal that can be infected by Fusarium spp. resulting in reduced quality and safety of harvested barley (products). Barley and other small-grain cereals are commonly studied together for Fusarium infection and related mycotoxin contamination, since the infection and its influencing factors are assumed to be the same for all small-grain cereals. Using relevant literature, this study reviewed Fusarium spp. infection and mycotoxin contamination, mainly T-2/HT-2 toxin and deoxynivalenol (DON), in barley specifically. For the first time, review results provide an extensive overview of the influencing factors for Fusarium infection and mycotoxin production in barley, such as weather, agricultural management and processing factors, and includes the comparison of these mechanisms in wheat. Results showed that Fusarium infection in barley is difficult to recognise in the field and mycotoxin levels cannot be estimated based on the symptoms. These factors make it difficult to establish the real severity of Fusarium infection in barley. In addition, most pre-harvest measures to mitigate initial Fusarium infection, such as cultivar use and soil cultivation, are the same for barley and wheat, but due to anatomical differences, some pre-harvest measures have a different effect on Fusarium infection in barley. For example, the effective moment (days after anthesis) of fungicide application in barley and wheat is different. Also, in wheat, there is an additional effect of multiple fungicide applications in reducing Fusarium Head Blight and DON concentrations, whereas in barley, no additional effect of multiple application is seen. Hence, care should be taken to use data from one small-grain cereal to draw conclusions on other small-grain cereals