Phytophthoracapsici, a soil-borne oomycete pathogen causing fruit rot in cucumber, has become a limiting factor for cucumber production in the Midwest. In the process of screening plant introductions (PIs) for resistance to P. capsici, it appeared that degree of susceptibility might decrease as fruits develop. To examine this more carefully, detached, greenhouse-grown, hand-pollinated `Vlaspik' fruits aged 2–18 days post-pollination (dpp) were inoculated with P. capsici mycelium and evaluated for symptoms. There was a reproducible decrease in susceptibility with increasing fruit age. The fruits that sporulated were usually younger and smaller (2–9 dpp), 10-3 dpp fruit tended to develop water-soaked symptoms, while the fruits that remained symptom-free were usually older (>14 dpp) and oversized for pickling cucumber. The transition from susceptible to more resistant appeared to occur at the end of the period of rapid fruit elongation. Detached field-grown `Straight Eight' fruits showed similar size-related trends. Candidate resistant genotypes identified from the PI screening were re-screened using 7 and 14 dpp fruits. Again an age-dependent difference in response was observed, indicating that the increase in resistance is not genotype-specific. Furthermore, field observations suggest a gradation of susceptibility within the fruits as the blossom end was most frequently infected. Preliminary tests of detached greenhouse-grown, hand-pollinated fruits suggested that as the fruits grew older, the blossom end remained susceptible longer than the stem end. These findings could have implications for appropriate screening methods, the stage of fruit likely to become infected in the field, and appropriate spray practices.
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