- Author: Steven T. Koike
- Author: Mark Bolda
While the recently detected charcoal rot disease (caused by the soilborne fungus Macrophomina phaseolina) was causing collapse of strawberry plants from various parts of California, a second soilborne issue was simultaneously affecting other fields. Fusarium wilt was first confirmed on California strawberry in 2006. Initially found in Ventura County, Fusarium wilt is now present on strawberry in Santa Barbara and Monterey counties. The spread of Fusarium wilt in the state along with the increasing problems with Macrophomina pose long term threats to the strawberry industry which at present does not have satisfactory plant resistance to both of these pathogens and which is facing a changing future without traditional fumigant products.
Symptoms of Fusarium wilt in strawberry consist of wilting of foliage, plant stunting, and drying and death of foliage (Figure 1). When plant crowns are cut open, internal vascular and cortex tissues are dark to orange brown (Figure 2). Disease is often most severe if the infected plant is subject to stresses such as weather extremes, water stress (shortage of water), poor soil conditions, or heavy fruit loads. In locations where the disease has occurred for more than one season, the patches can be quite large and appear to have spread from the initial problem area (Figure 3). Such patterns are consistent with the spread of a soilborne pathogen. It is noteworthy that in these cases we have never isolated other important, well known pathogens such as Colletotrichum, Phytophthora, or Verticillium. However, it is important to note that Fusarium wilt symptoms are virtually identical to those caused by charcoal rot. To complicate matters further, in some fields we have found both Fusarium and Macrophomina infecting the same plant. This overlap of symptoms means that growers and field personnel should have plants tested by a pathology lab in order to confirm which soilborne disease they are encountering.
Fusarium wilt is caused by the fungus Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. fragariae. This pathogen is host specific to strawberry and can only infect this crop. The fungus survives in the soil for long periods by producing resilient, microscopic structures called chlamydospores (Figure 4). The development of Fusarium wilt has also been associated with changes in the practices of pre-plant soil fumigation. The fungus is spread within and between fields mostly by the transport of contaminated soil during soil tillage and preparation operations.
Current management strategies involve the following: (1) Crop rotation. Do not plant strawberry in fields having a known history of the problem and avoid back-to-back strawberry plantings in infested locations. (2) Pre-plant fumigation. This remains a useful tool for managing Fusarium and the other soilborne pests, even though bed-applied fumigants may not provide complete control. (3) Avoid stressing the plants. Stress will hasten the development and increase the severity of symptoms, so use appropriate growing and irrigation practices to reduce stress. Note, however, that even in the absence of stress, infected plants will eventually develop the disease. (4) Sanitation. Growers with Fusarium infested fields need to be concerned with limiting the spread of the fungus from infested to clean fields.
- Author: Steven T. Koike
Along with researchers in Europe, Jim Correll (Univ. Arkansas) and Steven Koike (UC Cooperative Extension, Monterey County) report here another new race, the 14th, of the downy mildew pathogen (Peronospora farinosa f. sp. spinaciae) of spinach. First identified in November 2010 from spinach in Ventura County, California, this race breaks the resistance of several important cultivars. The isolate was initially designated as UA4410 and was characterized with a standard set of differential varieties. Isolates with the same disease reaction as UA4410 were subsequently found in locations throughout California and Arizona in 2011 and 2012. This race has not been reported in Europe. After careful evaluation of the significance of this development to the spinach industry, the International Working Group on Peronospora (IWGP) has designated this isolate as race Pfs: 14. Isolate UA4410 will be the type isolate (or official isolate) of Pfs: 14. The IWGP is located in The Netherlands and is administered by Plantum NL.
Race Pfs: 14 poses a threat to the spinach industry because it is particularly well-adapted to modern hybrids with resistance to races 1-13. Similar developments have taken place when races Pfs: 5 (1996), Pfs: 6 (1998), Pfs: 7 (1999), Pfs: 8 and 10 (2004), Pfs: 11 (2008), Pfs: 12 (2009), and Pfs: 13 (2011) were identified and named. The occurrence of Pfs: 14 will encourage development and eventual use of Pfs: 1-14 resistant spinach cultivars.
A collaboration of researchers with the IWGP, University of Arkansas (Correll), and University of California (Koike) is monitoring the development of new races of spinach downy mildew on a global scale by continuously collecting and testing suspected new isolates. Collected field samples are tested for race identification using a fixed, standardized host differential set of varieties that contains the full range of available resistances. New race designations will be mutually agreed upon by this collaboration based on persistence of the race over several years, occurrence in a wide area, and significant economic impact. In this way it is hoped that research findings and conclusions will be agreed upon and better communicated between the researchers, seed industry, spinach growers, and other interested parties.
For California and Arizona, the Correll-Koike team will continue to receive and test spinach downy mildew samples for growers, pest control advisors, and seed companies. Industry is encouraged to continue to submit downy mildew outbreak samples to Correll-Koike, as such samples facilitate the discovery of additional new races. The Correll-Koike research is made possible by support from the California Leafy Greens Research Board and by active participation from the agricultural industries in California and Arizona.
The IWGP consists of spinach seed companies (Pop Vriend, Monsanto, Rijk Zwaan, Nunhems, Takii, Sakata, Bejo, Enza, Syngenta, Vilmorin, and Advanseed) and Naktuinbouw (the Inspection Service for Horticulture in The Netherlands), and is supported by researchers at the University of Arkansas and the University of California Cooperative Extension (Monterey County) in the USA. Researchers all over the world are invited to join the IWGP initiative and use the common host differential set to identify new isolates.
For more information on this subject you can contact Steven Koike (firstname.lastname@example.org), Jim Correll (email@example.com), Diederik Smilde (firstname.lastname@example.org), or IWGP chairperson Jan de Visser (JandeVisser@popvriendseeds.nl).