Splash : the dispersal of fungal plant pathogens in rain events

A. Pielaat

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU


<p>Models were developed to study splash dispersal of fungal plant pathogens in space and time. The models incorporate the main mechanisms involved in splash dispersal, that is 1. A raindrop hits the thin water film on the crop surface containing spores and spores are dispersed in the splashing rain droplets, and 2. Splashed spores are redistributed in the crop and on the soil surface. A mechanistic random 'jump' model describes the stochastic processes of splash dispersal over a homogeneous surface from a point source. Numerical analysis showed the importance of ground cover and rain intensity as factors determining model output. More spores were splashed in high intensity rains and, simultaneously, more spores were removed from the system. A diffusion approximation was developed for this mechanistic model which could only be considered a reasonable approximation under certain limiting conditions.</p><p>Based on the two-dimensional version of the mechanistic model an equation was developed for the total number of spores in the area surrounding an inoculum source over time, N(t). In addition, equations for the expected mean, E(r), and mean squared distance, E(r <sup>2</SUP>), spores travel during a rain event at a given time were developed. Observed data and model predictions showed that both N(t) and E(r <sup>2</SUP>) increased to a maximum over time and then declined due to spore removal from the system and depletion of spores at the source. Factors influencing the process could be assessed by changing parameter values.</p><p>Upward displacement of lesions by stem extension and dispersal of fungal conidia by rain-splash are mechanisms contributing to within-crop disease spread. These mechanisms were incorporated into a model based on the interaction between winter oilseed rape and the light leaf spot pathogen ( <em>Pyrenopeziza brassicae</em> ) as an example. Experimental results showed that most conidia were dispersed during a 15 min duration of rainfall. The trajectory of a droplet depended on the impacted plant part, with a mean horizontal travel distance decreasing with increasing incident drop diameter and a maximum splash height which ranged from 0.3 cm when splashed from a flower up to 57 cm for a pod.</p><p>These results were incorporated into the model. Stem extension was shown to be an important factor influencing vertical disease spread. Rain events contributed to the splash dispersal of conidia to the plant apex and resulting lesions were directed vertically by internode growth. Periods with frequent rain events in a dense crop canopy were most favorable for disease progress. The upward spread of light leaf spot on winter oilseed rape in experiments at the Institute of Arable Crops Research, Harpenden, UK, was similar to that predicted by the model. Finally, an analytical model was proposed to study the influence of crop characteristics and rain properties on the vertical spread of splashed spores. Splash dispersal was concentrated in the upper layers in a crop having a constant or increasing leaf surface area with height. The greatest splash probabilities occurred and most spores were intercepted in the layers just below the apex of a crop having a decreasing leaf surface area with height.</p>
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Jeger, M.J., Promotor
  • van den Bosch, F., Promotor, External person
Award date12 May 2000
Place of PublicationS.l.
Print ISBNs9789058082121
Publication statusPublished - 2000


  • plant pathogenic fungi
  • spores
  • pyrenopeziza brassicae
  • colletotrichum acutatum
  • dispersal
  • rain


Dive into the research topics of 'Splash : the dispersal of fungal plant pathogens in rain events'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this