Crop Rotation and Minimal Tillage Selectively Affect Maize Growth Promotion under Late Wilt Disease Stress

Ofir Degani, Asaf Gordani, Paz Becher, Assaf Chen, Onn Rabinovitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


In recent years, worldwide scientific efforts towards controlling maize late wilt disease (LWD) have focused on eco-friendly approaches that minimize the environmental impact and health risks. This disease is considered to be the most severe threat to maize fields in Israel and Egypt, and a major growth restraint in India, Spain, and Portugal. Today’s most commonly used method for LWD control involving resistant maize genotypes is under constant risk from aggressive pathogen lines. Thus, this study’s objectives were to evaluate the effect of crop rotation and avoiding tillage on restraining the disease. Such an agrotechnical approach will support the continuity of soil mycorrhiza networks, which antagonize the disease’s causal agent, Magnaporthiopsis maydis. The method gained positive results in previous studies, but many knowledge gaps still need to be addressed. To this end, a dual-season study was conducted using the LWD hyper-susceptible maize hybrid, Megaton cv. The trials were performed in a greenhouse and in the field over full dual-growth seasons (wheat or clover as the winter crop followed by maize as the summer crop). In the greenhouse under LWD stress, the results clearly demonstrate the beneficial effect of maize crop rotation with clover and wheat on plant weight (1.4-fold), height (1.1–1.2-fold) and cob yield (1.8–2.4-fold), especially in the no-till soil. The clover-maize growth sequence excels in reducing disease impact (1.7-fold) and pathogen spread in the host tissues (3-fold). Even though the wheat-maize crop cycle was less effective, it still had better results than the commercial mycorrhizal preparation treatment and the uncultivated non-infected soil. The results were slightly different in the field. The clover-maize rotation also achieved the best growth promotion and disease restraint results (2.6-fold increase in healthy plants), but the maize rotation with wheat showed only minor efficiency. Interestingly, pre-cultivating the soil with clover had better results in no-till soil in both experiments. In contrast, the same procedure with wheat had a better impact when tillage was applied. It may be concluded that crop rotation and soil cultivation can be essential in reducing LWD, but other factors may affect this approach’s benefits in commercial field growth.

Original languageEnglish
Article number586
JournalJournal of Fungi
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Cephalosporium maydis
  • Harpophora maydis
  • Magnaporthiopsis maydis
  • crop cycle
  • crop protection
  • disease control
  • fungus
  • late wilt
  • maize
  • real-time PCR

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Plant Science


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