Genetic Trends in Fusarium Head Blight Resistance from 20 Years of Winter Wheat Breeding and Cooperative Testing in the Northern U.S.A.

Rupesh Gaire, Clay Sneller, Gina Brown-Guedira, David van Sanford, Mohsen Mohammadi, Frederic L. Kolb, Eric Olson, Mark Sorrells, Jessica Rutkoski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Fusarium head blight (FHB) is a devastating disease of wheat and barley. In the U.S.A., a significant long-term investment in breeding FHB-resistant cultivars began after the 1990s. However, to this date, no study has been performed to understand and monitor the rate of genetic progress in FHB resistance as a result of this investment. Using 20 years of data (1998 to 2018) from the Northern Uniform and Preliminarily Northern Uniform winter wheat scab nurseries that consisted of 1,068 genotypes originating from nine different institutions, we studied the genetic trends in FHB resistance within the northern soft red winter wheat growing region using mixed model analyses. For the FHB resistance traits incidence, severity, Fusarium-damaged kernels, and deoxynivalenol content, the rate of genetic gain in disease resistance was estimated to be 0.30 ± 0.1, 0.60 ± 0.09, and 0.37 ± 0.11 points per year, and 0.11 ± 0.05 parts per million per year, respectively. Among the five FHB-resistance quantitative trait loci assayed for test entries from 2012 to 2018, the frequencies of favorable alleles from Fhb 2DL Wuhan1 W14, Fhb Ernie 3Bc, and Fhb 5A Ning7840 were close to zero across the years. The frequency of the favorable at Fhb1 and Fhb 5A Ernie ranged from 0.08 to 0.33 and 0.06 to 0.20, respectively, across years, and there was no trend in changes in allele frequencies over years. Overall, this study showed that substantial genetic progress has been made toward improving resistance to FHB. It is apparent that today’s investment in public wheat breeding for FHB resistance is achieving results and will continue to play a vital role in reducing FHB levels in growers’ fields.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)364-372
Number of pages9
JournalPlant Disease
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The American Phytopathological Society.


  • Deoxynivalenol
  • Fusarium head blight
  • Genetic gain
  • Plant breeding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Plant Science


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