Potential impacts of climate change on pathogens of oilseed rape (B. napus L.)

Sub-project within the research topic Crop Production of the research framework “KLIFF – Climate impact and adaptation research in Lower Saxony”

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Within the research topic Crop Production of the research framework “KLIFF”, which started in March 2009, potential impacts of climate change on pathogens and pests of the four main crops in the federal state Lower Saxony (wheat, sugar beet, oilseed rape, maize) were investigated theoretically and experimentally. 
This sub-project focused on the three currently most important pathogens of oilseed rape, Phoma lingam, Sclerotinia sclerotiorum and Verticillium longisporum. Objectives of this sub-project were to investigate the impacts of a future changing climate on the life cycles of P. lingam, S. sclerotiorum and V. longisporum with the emphasis on rising temperatures, and to derive alterations in intensity of infestation and relative preference in oilseed rape. In a preliminary study, data collection and review of existing literature and modeling approaches took place (Siebold & von Tiedemann 2012a). The hypotheses on potential effects of climate change on the life cycle of oilseed rape pathogens, derived from the literature review, were tested in experiments under controlled conditions and in the field utilizing a soil warming facility (Siebold & von Tiedemann 2012b).
In five phytotrons, purchased within KLIFF, different climatic scenarios according to current and projected future climate in Lower Saxony in spring and summer were simulated. The infection of oilseed rape with V. longisporum was investigated by visual scoring and qPCR measurement of fungal biomass in the plant tissue. Additionally, germination of S. sclerotiorum sclerotia was studied. Possible impacts of rising temperatures under field conditions were investigated utilizing the Göttingen Miniplot Soil Warming Facility which consists of 12 plots equipped with heating cables. Four of the plots served as reference plots with ambient soil temperature, whereas in the remaining plots the soil temperature was continuously elevated above the temperature of the reference plots according to mid-term (by 2050) and long-term (by 2100) warming scenarios for Lower Saxony. Data logging and soil temperature control of the facility are fully computerized. Stubbles infested with pycnidia of P. lingam and microsclerotia of V. longisporum as well as sclerotia of S. sclerotiorum were added to the soil of each plot to investigate the impact of soil warming on the life cycle of the three pathogens. Development of phoma leaf spots and crown canker in autumn and spring and apothecia production of S. sclerotiorum in spring were checked visually, whereas the infection of oilseed rape by V. longisporum was additionally investigated using qPCR (Siebold & von Tiedemann 2013).


  • Siebold M., A.v. Tiedemann (2012a). Potential effects of global warming on oilseed rape pathogens in Northern Germany. Fungal Ecology, 5(1): 62-72.
  • Siebold M., A.v. Tiedemann (2012b). Application of a robust experimental method to study soil warming effects on oilseed rape. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 164: 20-28.
  • Siebold M., A.v. Tiedemann (2013). Effects of experimental warming on fungal disease progress in oilseed rape. Global Change Biology, doi: 10.1111/gcb.12180

Investigator: Magdalena Siebold

Supervisor: Prof. Andreas von Tiedemann