Main content area

Climate change effects on leaf rust of wheat: Implementing a coupled crop-disease model in a French regional application

Caubel, Julie, Launay, Marie, Ripoche, Dominique, Gouache, David, Buis, Samuel, Huard, Frédéric, Huber, Laurent, Brun, François, Bancal, Marie Odile
European journal of agronomy 2017 v.90 pp. 53-66
canopy, climate change, crops, disease severity, early development, grain yield, host plants, inoculum, juveniles, leaf rust, microclimate, models, overwintering, pathogen survival, pathogens, spores, sporulation, spring, temperature, wheat, France
Leaf rust is responsible for significant wheat yield losses. Its occurrence and severity have increased in recent years, partly because of warmer climate. It is therefore critical to understand and anticipate the effects of climate change on leaf rust. Direct climate effects and indirect effects via host plants that provide a biophysical environment for disease development were both considered. The coupled STICS-MILA model simulates both crop and pathogen dynamics in a mechanistic way and their interaction is managed by two sub-models: one calculating the microclimate within the canopy and the other converting numbers of spores and lesions to affected surfaces. In this study, STICS-MILA was first calibrated and evaluated using leaf rust severity observed at various sites in France for multiple years. STICS-MILA was then run on three contrasting French sites under 2.6, 4.5 and 8.5 RCP future climate scenarios. Results focused firstly on changes in disease earliness and intensity, secondly on disease dynamics, particularly the synchronism between plant and disease developments, and finally on elementary epidemic processes.The calibration and evaluation of STICS-MILA revealed a high sensitivity to the initial amount of primary inoculum (a forcing variable in STICS-MILA) and thus the need to properly simulate the summering and overwintering pathogen survival. The simulations in the context of future climate showed a significant change in host-pathogen synchronism: in the far future, according to RCP 4.5 and 8.5 scenarios, disease onset is expected to occur not only with an advance of around one month but also at an earlier developmental stage of wheat crops. This positive effect results from rising temperatures, nevertheless partly counter-balanced during spring by lower wetness frequency. The crop growth accelerates during juvenile stages, providing a greater support for disease development. The resulting microclimate shortens latency periods and increases infection and sporulation efficiencies, thus causing more infectious cycles. An increase of final disease severity is thus forecasted with climate change.