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  • Author or Editor: O. Veisz x
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Among the abiotic stress factors influencing the growth and productivity of wheat varieties, extremely high temperatures have the most limiting effect. In an experiment set up in the gradient chamber of the Martonvásár phytotron to test the effect of various temperatures on four winter wheat varieties and one variety of spelt, substantial differences were observed in the heat stress tolerance of the varieties. There was a considerable reduction in the number of shoots and spikes as the result of heat stress, leading to a drastic loss of grain yield. It was clear from changes in the biomass and in the grain:straw ratio that extremely high temperatures led to a substantial reduction in the ratio of grain to straw in the varieties tested. In response to high temperature the wheat plants turned yellow earlier due to the rapid decomposition of the chlorophyll content. This resulted in a considerable shortening of the vegetation period and early ripening. Reductions in the parameters tested were observed at different temperature levels for each variety, indicating considerable differences in the ability of the varieties to adapt to abiotic stress factors.

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Numerous Fusarium species have been associated with the Fusarium head blight (FHB) disease of wheat, barley and other small-grain cereals, reducing worldwide cereal crop yields and, as a consequence of their mycotoxin production in the cereal grain, having an impact on both human and animal health.The year 2010 was extremely favourable for Fusarium head blight pathogens. Over a hundred symptomatic wheat heads were collected from various locations in Hungary. The aim was to determine the diversity of the Fusarium species infecting winter wheat ears. A total of 86 Fusarium spp. were morphologically identified from diseased kernels. F. sambucinum was found to be present in two of the Martonvásár samples. This pathogen had only previously been detected extremely sporadically. The species F. culmorum and F. verticillioides were found at a much lower rate than expected, while none of the isolates were identified as F. poae. On the basis of the results, 95% of the isolates belonged to the Fusarium graminearum species complex.

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The unfavourable effects of climate change were studied in terms of changes in the stress tolerance of cereals. The yield and physiological parameters of two winter wheat genotypes (Mv Mambó, Mv Regiment) were analysed in the phytotron after water was completely withheld for 7 or 14 days in three phenophases. The plants were raised in climate chambers, one adjusted to ambient CO2 concentration and the other to a higher level (750 μmol mol−1). The aim of the present work was to determine the correlations between the duration of water withholding and the phenological, physiological and yield parameters of winter wheat. It was hoped to identify how elevated CO2 levels affected the stress sensitivity of plants and whether they contributed to counteracting the damaging effects of drought. In both varieties, the grain mass decreased to the greatest extent when water was withheld at first node appearance (5.9–71.3%). A longer period of drought at first node appearance and grain filling only reduced the grain number and mass in the case of enhanced CO2. The yield and physiological parameters of Mv Regiment, however, deteriorated substantially as a result of water deficiency, though this variety was better able to utilise surplus CO2, giving outstanding results at elevated CO2 level.

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As in the case of other wheat diseases, adult plant resistance (APR) to powdery mildew remains effective longer than monogenic hypersensitive resistance, so the objective was to identify winter wheat genotypes with this type of resistance. Field and greenhouse tests conducted on 41 varieties and breeding lines indicated that 36 were susceptible in the seedling stage, and only five were resistant in all stages of development. It is probable that these latter genotypes contain major resistance genes. The area under the disease progress curve was the same for most of the wheat genotypes as for the APR control variety Massey, but varieties and lines with significantly better resistance were also identified. Among the genotypes in the Martonvásár breeding stock, Mv Táltos and the line Mv07-03 were found to have excellent adult plant resistance.

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One basic precondition for the reliable cultivation of winter durum wheat (Triticum durum Desf.) in Hungary is for the varieties to have good winter hardiness and frost resistance. Field overwintering experiments carried out in Martonvásár between 1995 and 2003 demonstrated that there was a significant difference every year between the overwintering of varieties with poor and good frost resistance, though only in two years was there a significant difference between that of varieties with medium and better frost resistance. Only a medium correlation was observed between the mean annual values of the air temperature in the winter months and the winter hardiness of the varieties, confirming that winter hardiness is influenced jointly by a number of environmental factors (e.g. cold, snow cover). In the experiments carried out on the winter hardiness dynamics of durum wheat, it was found that in milder winters even T. durum varieties which are sensitive to frost overwintered with little damage, while in the two coldest winters during the experimental period the hardiness of these varieties did not provide sufficient protection even in December, and all the plants were destroyed by January. The early spring frosts experienced in 1996 proved in these experiments that spring frosts may cause considerable damage even to durum wheat varieties with relatively good winter hardiness. Averaged over eight years, the results prove that T. durum genotypes are now available whose average state of hardening and winter hardiness are equal or better than those of winter T. aestivum varieties with moderate frost resistance.

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Stress tolerance is associated with the activation of antioxidant compounds and enzyme systems that are capable of neutralising the reactive oxygen species (ROS) continually produced in response to stress. The present experiment was designed to compare the heat tolerance of four winter wheat varieties in the shooting and grain-filling stages by investigating changes detected in antioxidant enzyme activity and yield components in response to heat stress.Heat treatment was found to cause a significant rise in the activity of the glutathione-S-transferase and catalase enzymes, while there was usually a less intense decline in the activity of guaiacol peroxidase.An analysis of yield data revealed that heat stress had a more pronounced effect during grain filling in this experiment than at the beginning of shooting, as shown by the greater reduction in thousand-kernel weight and yield.

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Fifty Triticum aestivum genotypes, including winter wheat cultivars from Martonvásár, were tested for fusarium head blight (FHB) resistance under artificially inoculated conditions. Field resistance, kernel infection, and the relative yield components (test weight, thousand kernel weight and kernel weight/heads) were examined following infection with Fusarium graminearum and F. culmorum isolates. Using data from two years, a number of Martonvásár varieties with above-average resistance to FHB were identified. On the basis of field infection, AUDPC values close to those of resistance sources were calculated for the variety Mv Emese, while 67.5% of the varieties tested had values which did not differ significantly from those of the control variety Arina. The yield components examined were modified substantially by artificial FHB infection. The thousand kernel weight and test weight of the variety exhibiting the greatest degree of infection were only 21.14% and 25.58%, respectively, of the untreated control. In one case the decline in the kernel weight/head was more than 90%. The results of multivariable statistical analysis indicated that among the Hungarian wheat genotypes, Bánkúti 1201, B9086-95 (a line derived from Bánkúti 1201), Mv Emese, Martonvásári4 and Mv Táltos could be grouped with the best sources of resistance. The experimental data revealed wide genetic variability for FHB resistance in the Martonvásár breeding stock.

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The transitions between various developmental phases are critical in determining the ecological adaptation and yield of cereals. In order to elaborate a methodology for establishing the timing of the consecutive plant developmental phases from germination to the fully developed plant, regular measurements of changes in developmental components were carried out on one winter (Kompolti Korai) and one spring (Morex) barley cultivar in a model experiment. Under the controlled environmental conditions linear regression was characteristic of the associations between the chronological time and all or most of the time course data of plant height, tiller and leaf numbers. The initial growth of the spring barley was twice as intensive as that of the winter barley. The length of the stem elongation phases was similar for the two varieties, but the winter barley cultivar showed significantly more intensive stem growth compared to the spring barley. The spring barley reached all the plant developmental phases significantly earlier than the winter barley. For both cultivars, tillering continued till after first node appearance and there was a definite delay between first node appearance and the beginning of the stem elongation phase. The determination of the full series of phenophases, together with the evaluation of various yield components on the same plant, provide an excellent way of establishing plant developmental patterns and may make a significant contribution to achieving a better understanding of the associations between plant developmental patterns and the adaptation and yielding ability of cereals.

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The breeding and cultivation of resistant wheat varieties is an effective way of controlling leaf rust ( Puccinia triticina Eriks.). The use of molecular markers facilitates the incorporation of the major leaf rust resistance genes ( Lr genes) responsible for resistance into new varieties and the pyramiding of these genes. Marker-assisted selection was used to incorporate the Lr genes currently effective in Hungary ( Lr9 , Lr24 , Lr25 , Lr29 ) into winter wheat varieties. The Lr genes were identified using STS, SCAR and RAPD markers closely linked to them. Investigations were made on how these markers could be utilised in plant breeding, and near-isogenic lines resembling the recurrent variety but each containing a different Lr gene were developed to form the initial stock for the pyramiding of resistance genes. The results indicate that the marker-assisted selection technique elaborated for resistance genes Lr24 , Lr25 and Lr29 can be applied simply and effectively in wheat breeding, while the detection of the Lr9 marker is uncertain.

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