Defra - Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Science Search

Science and Research Projects

Return to Science Search homepage   Return to Project List

Investigation of quarantine and emerging fungal pathogens in support of plant health pest risk analysis, management and - PH0171


Tilletia indica (Karnal bunt of wheat): To produce rapid identification methods to support action on interceptions and to study aspects of epidemiology in support of Pest Risk Analysis and contingency planning.
Alternaria alternata (Apple blotch and pear black spot): To investigate the identity and host specificity of Alternaria alternata pathogens with respect to risks to apple and pear.
Stegophora ulmea (Elm black spot): To study the epidemiology and control of S. ulmea, addressing scientific issues raised in the Pest Risk Analysis, including development of new management strategies for interceptions.

This project examines the identification, epidemiology and control of three fungal pathogens of plant health concern: Tilletia indica, Alternaria alternata and Stegophora ulmea. The first two are EC listed quarantine organisms (IAI and IIAI respectively); the latter is being considered for EC 1A1 listing. Each has been intercepted by the UK or EU, so there is a real risk of their introduction and establishment. The data obtained will support Pest Risk Analysis, Plant Health Policy and Action, including risk management and control.


01. Tilletia indica (Karnal bunt of wheat)
-To determine morphological methods (image analysis; statistical separation of morphological parameters; novel ‘bleaching’ methods) for identifying T. indica and closely related species contaminating imported wheat.
-To determine molecular methods for identifying single, ungerminated, or germinating, teliospores.
-To determine the effects of moisture and temperature interactions, especially freezing, on the potential survival of T. indica teliospores in UK soils in vitro.

02. Alternaria alternata (Apple blotch and pear black spot)
-To develop tests for assessing pathogenicity of ‘A. alternata’ isolates on a variety of hosts.
-To investigate the host range of pathogenic isolates from apple and pear.
-To determine the identity and pathogenicity to apple, pear and Cydonia of a range of ‘A. alternata’ isolates from other hosts.
-To re-evaluate the risk to apple and pear from pathogenic ‘A. alternata’ isolates based on pathogen identity, host specificity and geographic distribution.

03. Stegophora ulmea (Elm black spot)
-To obtain the fungus in pure culture and develop culturing methodologies.
-To examine the sexual and microconidial stages of the pathogen and ascertain if these stages will develop on bonsai elm under protection.
-To determine the effect of leaf age on infection.
-To determine if the pathogen survives in dormant buds, with particular regard to bonsai elms.
-To determine the effectiveness of a range of fungicides for both eradication and protection purposes.

Project Documents
• Final Report : Final Report   (453k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2001

To: 2004

Cost: £169,159
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Central Science Laboratory
Alien Species              
Disease Control              
Plant health              
Plant Pests and Diseases              
Plants and Animals              
Fields of Study
Plant Health