Septoria leaf blotch (SLB), caused by Zymoseptoria tritici
(Desm.) Quaedvlieg & Crous, 2011 (teleomorph: Mycosphaerella graminicola
(Fuckel) J. Schröt.), is an important wheat disease in the Mediterranean region. In Tunisia, SLB has become a major disease of durum wheat ( Triticum turgidum
L. subsp. durum
[Desf.] Husn.) particularly during favorable growing seasons where significant yield losses and increase of fungicides use were recorded over the last three decades. The objectives of this study were to evaluate the effect of SLB severity on grain yield of new elite durum wheat breeding lines and to measure the relative effect of fungicide control on grain yield. Experiments were conducted during 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 cropping seasons. A set of 800 breeding lines were screened for reaction to SLB under natural infection at Béja research station. To estimate the disease effect, correlation between disease severity at early grain filling stage and grain yield was performed. Results showed that susceptible varieties yield was significantly reduced by SLB. Average yield reduction was as high as 384 and 325 kg ha-1
for every increment in disease severity on a 0-9 scale in both seasons, respectively. A negative correlation coefficient varied between -0.61 and -0.66 in both seasons. Treated and untreated trials conducted during 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 showed that yield of treated plots increased by 50% on the commonly cultivated susceptible varieties. The results of this investigation suggested that septoria incidence is related to large grain yield losses particularly on susceptible high yielding cultivars. However, appropriate fungicide application at booting growth stage could be beneficial for farmers. The development and use of more effective fungicide could be sought to alleviate the disease effects and therefore could be considered as a part of the integrated pest management and responsible use strategy on septoria leaf blotch in Tunisia.