Evaluation of Winter Squash and Pumpkin Cultivars for Age-related Resistance to Phytophthora capsici Fruit Rot

in HortScience

Phytophthora capsici annually threatens production of cucurbit and solanaceous crops. Long-lived oospores produced by the pathogen incite primary infection of susceptible plants when conditions are wet. Limiting the rot of winter squash and pumpkin (Cucurbita sp.) fruits is difficult due to the long maturation period when fruits are often in direct contact with infested soil. Genetic resistance to fruit rot is not widely available within Cucurbita sp.; however, age-related resistance (ARR) to P. capsici fruit rot develops in specific cultivars during maturation. The objective of this study was to evaluate the fruits of 12 cultivars of Cucurbita pepo, Cucurbita moschata, and Cucurbita maxima for ARR to P. capsici using a mycelial-plug inoculation method. All Cucurbita pepo and Cucurbita moschata cultivars displayed ARR; 7 days postpollination (dpp) fruits were susceptible, limited lesion development occurred on fruits 22 dpp, and lesions did not develop at 56 dpp. Disease developed on both Cucurbita maxima cultivars tested at 7, 14, 22, and 56 dpp. Firmness of fruit exocarps was measured with a manual penetrometer. Exocarp firmness of all cultivars increased during maturation; however, there was no correlation between firmness and disease incidence among cultivars at 22 dpp (R2 = −0.01, P = 0.85). When fruits of cultivars expressing ARR at 22 dpp were wounded before inoculation, fruit rot developed.

Contributor Notes

We thank Sheila Linderman and Alex Cook for technical assistance.

This research was supported by funding from Michigan Specialty Crop Block Grant No. 791N13200129 awarded to the Michigan Vegetable Council.

Corresponding author. E-mail: hausbec1@msu.edu.

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    Effect of Phytophthora capsici inoculation on (A, C) unwounded and (B, D) puncture wounded fruits of (A, B) ‘Table Ace’ and (C, D) ‘Vegetable Spaghetti’ 4 d postinoculation. Note the lack of sporulation on diseased tissue in (D).

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    Lesion diameter and pathogen growth rating 4 d postinoculation with Phytophthora capsici of 22 d postpollination puncture wounded winter squash and pumpkin fruits. Fruits were wounded with a sterile needle to 1-cm depth before inoculation. Each bar represents the mean of two trials with four replicate fruits per isolate per trial. Bars with a letter in common are not significantly different based on Fisher’s least significant difference (P < 0.05).

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