A multicomponent decision support system to manage Fusarium head blight and mycotoxins in durum wheat

Vittorio Rossi, Valentina Manstretta, Matteo Ruggeri, M. Ruggeri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Mycotoxin contamination is of great concern in durum wheat and pasta production in Italy. A long-term project was conducted to improve mycotoxin management, and this project had six stages, from basic research to large-scale application. In stage 1, research was conducted on the biology and epidemiology of the fungal species involved in the Fusarium head blight (FHB) complex. The results were used in stage 2 to develop a multispecies, mechanistic model that included the effect of host and weather on: (1) inoculum production and dispersal; (2) infection and disease onset; and (3) mycotoxin accumulation. The weather-driven model was then validated under different epidemiological conditions. In stage 3, the model was expanded to include those crop management options that influence the risk of FHB and mycotoxin contamination, i.e. growing area, host species and resistance level of the cultivar, previous crop, and soil tillage. In stage 4, the complete model was included in a web-based decision support system (DSS) named granoduro.net®. The DSS provides plot-specific and up-to-date decision supports about weather, fertilisation, crop growth, weed control, and disease and mycotoxin risk. In stage 5, the DSS, together with Good Agricultural Practices, was applied for 2 years in 25 pilot farms across Italy. DSS use reduced external inputs (i.e. seeds, fungicides, and fertilisers) and costs, maintained or increased crop yield and quality, and kept mycotoxin contamination below the legal limit. Thus, the DSS significantly increased farmer income and reduced emission of greenhouse gasses. In stage 6, in an agreement with Barilla (a pasta producing company), the DSS was successfully used to manage 18,000 ha of durum wheat across Italy during 2013-2014. The DSS is currently being improved to include additional Fusarium species and related toxins, and the sexual stage of Fusarium graminearum. DSSs for common wheat and barley are also under development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)629-640
Number of pages12
JournalWorld Mycotoxin Journal
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Fusarium culmorum
  • Fusarium graminearum
  • decision making
  • modelling

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