Survival of Tilletia indica teliospores under European soil conditions.
As part of developing a European Pest Risk Analysis (PRA) for Tilletia indica, the causal agent of Karnal bunt of wheat, teliospore survival studies were done outside under quarantine containment at three European sites (Norway, UK, Italy). At each site, experiments were set up in three consecutive years (Experiments 1, 2 & 3) to determine teliospore survival over time (1-3 years) at 5, 10 and 20 cm depths. Experiments were sampled annually and survival assessed in relation to teliospore recovery and to germination at recovery (T0) and 3 months after recovery in case of burial-induced dormancy (T3). Teliospores survived at all three sites at all depths over all the time periods studied. At each site, there was no evidence of a marked decline in teliospore recovery between sampling years, except in one set of years in one Norwegian experiment. There was no consistent effect of depth on recovery. In general there was little evidence for a marked decline in teliospore germination between sampling years. There was some evidence of a decrease in germination with increasing depth in the UK, and for some time-depth interactions. After 3 years' incubation (Experiment 1), mean teliospore recovery and mean germination were: UK: 61% recovery and 31% (33%) germination for T0 (and T3); Italy: 30% recovery and 36% (29%) germination; and Norway: 12% recovery and 19% (49%) germination. Germination for laboratory controls ranged from 20-59% (UK), 18-41% (Italy) and 28-59% (Norway). There was no evidence for burial-induced dormancy except in Norway. Teliospores of T. indica can survive for at least three years in European soils. This prolonged period of survival could support establishment of the pathogen if it were introduced into areas of European cereal production.