Protecting the malting and brewing quality of UK barley cultivars through effective FHB disease control strategies

Lead Research Organisation: University of Nottingham
Department Name: Sch of Biosciences

Abstract

The incidence of Fusarium Head Blight (FHB) disease has significant implications for the viability and functional quality of barley destined for use in the malting and brewing sectors. Fusarium infection of UK malting barley is on an upwards trend and the strains implicated are diversifying. Such trends are predicted to continue as the effects of global warming become apparent. Currently there is insufficient information and knowledge of:1. The links between key agronomic variables (e.g. selection of barley variety/ agronomic and weather conditions) and the resultant severity of FHB in malting barley.2. The impact of infection with Fusarium species on the malting and brewing quality of the barley crop. This project will aim to determine the links throughout the supply chain from evaluating the impact of a series of agronomic variables on the incidence of FHB, through identification of the causal pathogens of FHB implicated to the subsequent impact on the functional properties of barley for malting and brewing. The role and contribution of varietal resistance in UK barley and timing of fungicide application against FHB will be determined. The collaboration between partners with expertise in key sectors such as crop breeding, crop protection, agrochemical industry, farm management, malting and brewing is required in order to ensure that future agricultural production meets the needs of UK industry.

Publications


10 25 50
 
Description The SAFEMalt project has focused on the identification of Fusarium and Microdochium species and their significance to UK malting barley production and quality.
The project included extensive surveys of UK malting barley (n= 165) from the 2010 & 2011 and retrospective samples from 2007-2009 harvests as well as field experiments with natural and artificial inoculation in which the effects of management, varietal resistance and chemical control on yield, quality and safety were quantified. The project aimed to provide information needed for the future control of diseases which were not previously troublesome in the UK (due, e.g. to an increase in average temperature) and develop new disease management strategies. Key achievements of this project were:

1. Generate new knowledge on the identity, presence and impact of the main Fusarium species infecting UK malting barleys on safety in terms of mycotoxin contamination and on quality of the barley grain.
The results from the project demonstrated that UK malting barleys meet stringent quality requirements and no naturally infected samples were identified with mycotoxins in excess of legislated levels. The most damaging species to yield, quality and safety were found to be F. graminearum, F. avenaceum, F. poae, F. langsethiae and Microdochium species. Malting parameters most affected by different pathogens were germinative energy and water sensitivity. Brewing parameters affected included wort extract, wort viscosity, wort filtration time, wort free amino nitrogen and wort colour mostly influenced by Microdochium species and Fusarium poae, F. langsethiae. Fusarium head blight (FHB) should be controlled in field and the recommendation is to include ear wash (GS59) treatment in addition to treatment at flag leaf (GS 39) for the control of the most damaging species and response to yield and quality.To be most effective against diverse pathogen populations and their interactions and prevent the occurrence of resistance in pathogen populations, treatments at GS 39 and 59 should alternate in their mode of action, thus stobilurins and succinate dehidrogenase inhibitors should not be used consecutively. Microdochium species and Fusarium poae, F. langsethiae are less adequately controlled in field, thus increasing varietal resistance to these pathogens will be necessary to minimise future impact. The purchase of UK assured malt will ensure that best agronomic practice has been applied to generate malts of the required quality.
2. Significant negative results and important new research questions opened up.
Current disease control relies heavily on fungicides as elite barley cultivars were shown to have narrow range of resistance responses to disease indicating most are moderately to highly susceptible to FHB. This necessitates the identification of new exotic sources of resistance to develop improved cultivars that can be used as part of the integrated control of the disease.
3. New or improved research methods.
Potentially useful screens tested in this project involve measurement of fungal biomass related to malting and brewing issues, and in field assessment of FHB symptoms such as bleaching related to mycotoxin accumulation.
4. Improved agronomic practice.
New guidelines on fungicide strategy developed through this project reduce the risk of Fusarium infection, therefore a loss of approximately £0.3m will be avoided on germination penalties.
Exploitation Route The major outcome of this project was the first guidelines for Fusarium control in spring barley crop to preserve germination and limit mycotoxin risks worth up to £250,000 per year or £83/ha for barley growers. This potential benefit of improved disease control is equally applicable to all spring barley growers and co-operatives, particularly in the South West and West of the UK, barley growers worldwide and for the malting, brewing and distilling industries. The project also determined that there are currently no elite cultivars with reliable resistance against the disease. Crop breeder's income derives from either increased sales volume or increased royalty level. Therefore the development and introduction of new improved barley variety by crop breeding companies will result in a significant increase in market share or royalty level with direct financial benefit. Final output was the development of new targeted chemical control options. Current average number of sprays on spring barley is under two per crop (approx 1.8) and the value is approx £25/ha. Thus justifiably increasing the spray intensity by 10% at optimum timing would increase the market value by over 1million for the Crop Protection industry. This project provides new knowledge and practice with which to protect yield, quality and safety of malting barley in the production chain. It is envisaged that environmental benefits will be derived via input optimisation within the developed guidelines.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink
URL http://www.safemalt.co.uk/
 
Description The project aimed to provide information needed for the future control of diseases which were not previously troublesome in the UK but have recently increased in prevalence and impact to crop production and quality. SAFEMalt focused on the identification and significance of Fusarium and Microdochium species, causing Fusarium head blight (FHB), to UK malting barley production and quality. Major finding from this project was that current UK Elite germplasm lacks resistance to FHB reinforcing the need to identify new more exotic sources and introgress these into cultivated barley. New breeding projects, championed by companies such as Syngenta, have resulted since the project completion aiming to achieve this. Ultimately, the project identified the importance of FHB control through targeted fungicide strategy because currently there is no commercially available varietal resistance to exploit. Major output of SAFEMalt was the first management guidelines for the disease and new information on the risk factors for FHB in field. This information is used by agronomy companies and growers to increase the yield and protect the quality of barley crops. As UK malting barley protection against FHB is currently relying on chemical control, new targeted fungicide treatments were identified through the SAFEMalt project. Optimising the timing of application resulted in significant increase of yield of the barley crop (0.36 t/ha). This means that UK growers can achieve up to £62 /ha profit (£189/t) through improved control and yield response, translating in 0.4 Mt of increase in UK barley production. The consistency of the effects, demonstrated through the project, indicates that a major change of barley production in the UK will occur as consequence of this work. The developed strategies to reduce safety risk and increase the security of malting quality barley provide further benefits for maltsters and brewers in the production chain who are also better informed on the main pathogens impacting significant malting and brewing quality parameters.
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink
Impact Types Economic
 
Description Guidelines for protecting the quality and yield of malting barley against Fusarium head blight
Geographic Reach Europe 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact The guidelines were developed into a final format following consultation with industrial partners of the project and the domain name SAFEMalt was renewed. Guidelines are now live on www.safemalt.co.uk and are made available to view and download. PDF file was uploaded onto CROPROTECT https://croprotect.com/uploads/SAFEMalt-guide.pdf, https://croprotect.com/diseases/fusarium-ear-blight, which is the first BBSRC funded knowledge -exchange platform connecting users with it either through the website or through the IOS and Android Smartphone Apps. The primary function of CROPROTECT is to provide improved access to information about the target pests, diseases and weeds which users have voted for most frequently. The rural information network (RuSource) hosts the rural Farming Futures website and the pdf file was also uploaded there: http://www.farmingfutures.org.uk/blog/guidelines-protecting-quality-and-yield-malting-barley-against-fusarium-head-blight. OpenFields is an internet based 'library' designed to meet practitioner and student demand for knowledge that supports and stimulates the development of land-based industries. This platform has also been contacted to upload and host the guidelines. 1. The first guidelines for FHB control in malting barley are now live on www.safemalt.co.uk and are made available to view and download. 2. PDF file was uploaded onto CROPROTECT https://croprotect.com/uploads/SAFEMalt-guide.pdf, https://croprotect.com/diseases/fusarium-ear-blight with 917 users. 3. PDF file was also uploaded on Farming Futures: http://www.farmingfutures.org.uk/blog/guidelines-protecting-quality-and-yield-malting-barley-against-fusarium-head-blight. Disseminated to 16 300 recipients in agricultural industry (consultants, growers, agronomists, advisors) 4. RuSource included in newsletter to 1300 recipients from agricultural industry. 5. Completed dissemination via Twitter: Velcourt - 670 followers, CROPROTECT 938 followers, other leaders in industry with good twitter base to 3200 followers. 6. Velcourt web and newsletter -580 recipients. 7. East Midlands Farming Association - emailed guidelines to 50 growers.
URL https://croprotect.com/diseases/fusarium-ear-blight
 
Description Control of Fusarium head blight (FHB) and mycotoxins in UK malting barley 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The populations of Fusarium head blight (FHB) pathogens causing the disease in UK barley are diverse, ranging from Fusarium poae and F. graminearum associated with mycotoxins such as nivalenol and deoxynivalenol, respectively, to non-toxigenic species such as Microdochium. Therefore strategies for the control of the disease and associated mycotoxins must be effective against broad spectrum of FHB causal organisms and targeted most at those capable of causing significant yield, safety and quality losses.

The SAFEMalt (Strategies Against Fusarium Effective in Malting barley) project aims to develop an integrated toolbox for UK growers for the protection of yield, quality and safety of malting barley. As part of the project, a range of chemical treatments were evaluated in different geographical locations to determine the optimum timing and efficacy of control of FHB, and mycotoxins, caused by mixed pathogen populations. In contrast to wheat disease management, FHB targeted treatment of the ear at GS 59, known in the UK as an ear wash spray, is not practiced in spring malting barley. Our results indicate that ear wash spray in barley is essential for the protection of yield, quality and safety of malting barley against FHB disease.
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Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Fusarium species in malting barley-update on SAFEMalt at Cereals Event 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Fusarium head blight (FHB) is a damaging disease on cereals caused by toxigenic Fusarium and non-toxigenic Microdochium. FHB can lead to reduced grain germination, safety and malting and brewing quality. Fungal strains implicated in FHB are diversifying and the impact of key agronomic variables on FHB disease and quality of UK barley destined form malting and brewing quality is uncertain. The aims of the SAFEMalt (strategies against fusarium head blight effective in malting barley) project are: i) to identify the predominant Fusarium and Microdochium spp. causing FHB in UK malting barley, ii) to develop effective control strategies for FHB, iii) to produce 'field to malt' toolkit for the barley industry. Preliminary results indicated that the predominant species in 2010 were F. avenaceum, F. langsethiae, F. poae and M. nivale. Malting barley samples in 2010 were expected to be below the maximum toxin limits. Brewing quality tests will be carried out in 2011.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011,2012,2013,2014
 
Description Oxford Farming Conference (BBSRC fringe event) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact The Oxford Farming Conference is a prestigious annual event covering all aspects of agriculture in the UK and beyond, focussing on policy and practice.

BBSRC's fringe event 'Staying ahead in the global farm: bioscience tackling pests and diseases'. BBSRC is hosted the first of five fringe events, alongside Birketts, BASF, RICS and McDonalds.

A talk on the main findings of SAFEMalt was made to delegates with questions and answers. A short case was presented in paper format to take away. Text is below:
Tackling blight in malting barley

Each year over seven million tonnes of barley is produced in the UK with 1.8 million used in the brewing and distilling trades.1 Malting barley underpins the brewing industry, which is worth £19 billion to the UK economy.

Production of quality UK barley malt is under threat from Fusarium head blight (FHB), affecting seed viability and germination in storage. Crop value losses in the supply chain including mycotoxin contamination can cost the industry up to £1 million per year. Unless FHB is tackled, the problem is likely to get worse as a result of global warming with disease incidence projected to increase two fold in the UK by 2050.

Researchers from the University of Nottingham are investigating how FHB affects the malting and brewing quality of different barley cultivars. With funding from BBSRC and other partners they are identifying those that may be naturally resistant, as well as the impact of crop management practice on disease control, crop yield and quality.

Working with the brewing industry and farm managers, researchers have developed a toolkit for barley from field to malt. This enables agronomists, growers and users to utilise the outputs from the project by implementing new management practices.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/news/events/2016/1601-the-oxford-farming-conference/
 
Description Rising to the 15t wheat challenge 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Industry workshop organised by Agrii, involved presentation and discussion with audience.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description TIMING AND EFFICACY OF FUNGICIDES AGAINST FUSARIUM HEAD BLIGHT IN MALTING BARLEY. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Fungicide application and optimum timing against Fusarium Head Blight (FHB) in malting barley has not previously been studied in UK. The objectives of present study were to determine fungicide efficacy as well as the most favourable timing of fungicide application against FHB in malting barley. Field trials using the commercial malting barley cultivar Quench were conducted over two seasons (2011/12) at five different locations in England. These locations included one location relying on natural infection of the FHB related species of Fusarium and Microdochium; two locations (one misted and one non-misted) artificially inoculated with a mixture of F. poae, F. langsethiae and F. tricinctum; two locations (one misted and one non-misted) artificially inoculated with a mixture of F. graminearum, F. culmorum, F. tricinctum, F. poae, F. langsethiae, F. avenaceum, M. majus and M. nivale. Fungicides were applied at crop GS 39/45 and/or GS 59. Bontima® at 1.4 l ha-1 (isopyrazam and cyprodinil) or Fandango® at 1.0 l ha-1 (prothioconazole and fluoxastrobin) was tested at GS 39/45. Proline275® at 0.36 l ha-1 (prothioconazole), Fandango® at 1.0 l ha-1 (fluoxastrobin), or a combination of IZM at 0.75 l ha-1 (isopyrazam) and Proline275® at 0.36 l ha-1 (prothioconazole) were tested at GS 59. In total the trial included nine treatment combinations with four replicates at each experimental location and year.

The effect of timing and fungicide treatment on incidence and severity of FHB and brown foot rot disease on stems were assessed at GS 75, and the fungal biomass of Fusarium and Microdochium spp. were quantified using species specific real-time PCR assays. These parameters along with germinative energy (GE%), and specific grain quality parameters were used in evaluating the efficacy of fungicide application and timing.
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Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description The impact of Fusarium and Microdochium species on the safety and quality of UK malting barley 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Fusarium head blight disease (FHB) can cause significant reductions of yield, safety and quality of cereals. The SAFEMalt project (Strategies Against Fusarium Effective in MALTing barley) is a 3-year multi-partner research initiative spanning the malting barley supply chain from crop breeder through agronomist and merchant to brewer for the development of targeted toolkit for the protection of barley quality. The first objective of the project was to identify the predominant Fusarium/Microdochium species in UK barley and to evaluate the impact of their sub-acute infections on the malting and brewing characteristics of current barley cultivars. Real-time PCR analysis and mycotoxin quantification were carried out on UK Spring malting barley samples collected in 2010 and 2011 and on selected UK spring barley samples previously collected for mycotoxin screening between 2007 and 2009. The predominant Fusarium species present in UK malting barley in 2010 (n = 88) and 2011 (n = 76) were F. avenaceum, F.poae, and F. tricinctum with each species detected in 80-100% of all samples. The predominant Microdochium species was M. nivale. The main mycotoxins detected in 2010 and in 2011 were HT2/T2 and nivalenol correlating positively with quantified DNA of F. langsethiae and F. poae, respectively. Selected malting barley cultivars were further micro malted and subjected to malt and wort analysis of key quality parameters. The immediate effects of contamination with the predominant Fusarium and Microdochium species survey on the malting and brewing quality parameters of barley will be presented and discussed.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description The prevalence and impact of Fusarium and Microdochium species in UK malting barley 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Fusarium head blight disease caused by Fusarium and Microdochium spp. can result in significant reductions of yield and quality of cereals. Mycotoxin levels in UK malting barley have been reported to be below the EU legislative safety limits, but the effect of sub-acute Fusarium infection on the malting quality of barley has remained relatively unclear. The SAFEMalt project (Strategies Against Fusarium Effective in MALTing barley) is a 3-year multi-partner research initiative spanning the malting barley supply chain from barley breeder through barley grower and merchant to brewer. The project incorporates two annual surveys of UK Spring malting barleys (2010, 2011 harvests) and also has retrospective access to UK spring barley samples collected for mycotoxin screening between 2007-2009. In 2010, Real Time PCR analyses identified that the main species present across 88 samples of UK malting barley were F. avenaceum, F. langsethiae, F.poae, and F. tricinctum with each species detected in 80-90% of all samples. The predominant mycotoxins detected in 2010 were HT2/T2 and nivalenol correlating positively with quantified DNA of F. langsethiae and F. poae, respectively. Fusarium sporotrichioides, known HT2/T2 producer, was not detected in any barley samples between 2007 and 2010. The immediate effects of Fusarium/Microdochium contamination on malting quality parameters of barley will be presented and discussed.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Trends in the incidence of Fusarium and Microdochium species in UK malting barley: impacts for malting and brewing quality. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact The SAFEMalt project (Strategies Against Fusarium Effective in MALTing barley) is a 3-year multi-partner research initiative spanning the malting barley supply chain from barley breeder through barley grower and merchant to brewer. The project incorporates two annual surveys of UK Spring malting barleys (2010, 2011 harvests) and also has retrospective access to UK spring barley samples collected for mycotoxin screening between 2007-2009. In 2010, species-specific Real Time PCR analyses have identified that the main species present across 88 samples of UK malting barley were F. avenaceum, F. langsethiae, F.poae, and F. tricinctum with each species detected in 80-90% of all samples tested. Retrospective analysis of Fusarium species present in the 2007-2009, indicated that the prevalent Fusarium species on UK spring barleys differed hugely with harvest year. For example, F. graminearum was identified in all samples analysed in 2007 and 2008, but in just 9% of samples from 2010.

When 2010 samples were germinated (GE4mL & GE8mL counts) there was a positive correlation between the degree of water sensitivity and the quantity of DNA of Fusarium and Microdochium spp in each sample (R2 = 0.51; n= 24). This correlation was more pronounced in data relating to a single barley variety (R2 = 0.65; n=12). A micromalting procedure was developed using 350 g batches of barley in individual steep compartments in a Micromaltings K Steep-Germinator (Custom Lab, UK), this being necessary to investigate the impacts of the Fusarium and Microdochium species present without mixing them whilst steeping multiple samples. The effects of the presence of Fusarium and Microdochium species and significant malt and wort quality parameters (friability, _-amylase, _-amylase, wort extract, FAN, _-glucan and viscosity) will be presented.
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Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Ukraine visit Kiev 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Mycotoxin contamination of cereals is a serious safety and economic problem for LMICs. This workshop was held at Kiev, Ukraine to establish new partnerships and build research capacity between Ukrainian and UK scientists to develop immediate and long-term specific solutions to address food safety challenges posed by Fusarium diseases and the accumulation of harmful mycotoxins and resilience in crops in LMIC with focus on Ukraine as one of the top 5 producers and exporters of cereals worldwide. It was used for transfer of knowledge and methods from the BBSRC funded SAFEMalt project to local stakeholders and make future plans to exploit local unique germplasm to identify candidate lines for improved crop resilience and resistance to mycotoxin accumulation for a future collaborative proposals.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016