Current Studies: Polymer Trials
Overview: Polymers as Plant Protectants
Plant-protective polymers have documented efficacy for frost/cold protection (1), and inhibition of desiccation (1, 5), as well as for disease- (1, 3, 4) and pest management (1) (Table 1)
When sprayed on a plant surface, polymers develop a continuous film that permits diffusion of oxygen and carbon dioxide but inhibits the passage of water.
- The inhibition of transpiration prevents heat loss from the plant, thus allowing for cold protection (1).
- In addition to providing a physical barrier to pathogen infection, polymer films have been successfully used with commercial fungicides for enhanced disease management (1, 2).
Because polymer films do not target specific physiological functions of pathogens, widespread and/or frequent use of such products is unlikely to result in development of resistant pathogen populations (1), a risk typically associated with copper and antibiotic use. Consequently, the current use of a latex polymer product on olive nursery stock, new oil olive plantings and mature table olive orchards is congruent with scientific findings; however the specific efficacy of individual products on olive for frost protection or disease management is yet unknown.
Current Program: Research Objectives for Work with Polymers
The specific objective of this aspect of the P. savastanoi research program is too assess efficacy of polymer and menthene anti-transpirant coatings, both alone and in combination with Cu, for plant protection. Specifically:
- To investigate plant protection at leaf-scar level and whole plant level.
- To determine the potential for film-forming polymers to exact freeze protection on olive.
1. Han, J. 1990. Use of antitranspirant epidermal coatings for plant protection in China. Plant Disease 74:263-266.
2. Roark, R., Behe, B.K. 2000. Management of blackspot on three rose cultivars using antitranspirants in combination with chlorothalonil.
3. Sutherland, F., Walters, D.R. 2002. Effect of film-forming polymers on infection of barley with the powdery mildew fungus, Blumeria graminis f.sp. hordei. European Journal of Plant Pathology 108:385-389.
4. Walters, D. R. 2006. Disguising the leaf surface: the use of leaf coatings for plant disease control. European J. of Plant Pathology 114:255-260.
5. Voyiatzis, D.G., McGranahan, G.H. 1994. An improved method for acclimatizing tissue-cultured walnut plantlets using an antitranspirant.