Resistance of Blueberry Cultivars to Botryosphaeria Stem Blight and Phomopsis Twig Blight

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  • 1 USDA–ARS Fruit Lab, P.E. Marucci Center for Blueberry and Cranberry Research, 125A Lake Oswego Road, Chatsworth, NJ 08019
  • 2 USDA–ARS Biometrical Consulting Service, Henry A. Wallace Agricultural Research Center, Beltsville, MD 20705

Stem diseases of blueberry (Vaccinium spp.) can cause significant crop loss as well as loss of entire bushes. Stem diseases are also more difficult to control with fungicides than foliar or fruit diseases. A screening program was initiated to test blueberry cultivars for resistance to two pathogenic fungi: botryosphaeria stem blight and phomopsis twig blight. An attached stem assay was developed to compare the host response with both fungi. The relative resistance of 50 blueberry cultivars was assessed using stem lesion lengths, analyzed on a log scale, taken at 4 weeks postinoculation. For Botryosphaeria stem blight, mean lesion length ranged from about 10 mm in resistant cultivars to about 140 mm in susceptible cultivars. The half-high cultivars Northsky, Northblue, and Chippewa, and the lowbush cultivar Putte were among the most resistant. Phomopsis twig blight lesions ranged in mean length from about 18 to 98 mm. Similar to results for Botryosphaeria stem blight, resistance was limited to half-high (`Northsky' and `Chippewa') and lowbush (`Blomidon', `Chignecto', and `Cumberland') cultivars. Individual cultivars resistant to one pathogen were not necessarily resistant to the other; although, overall, the resistances were correlated. Approximate 95% confidence intervals were established for all cultivars to predict mean performance across years. The cultivars tested varied in resistance, but the largest single factor affecting lesion length was the fungal isolate used for inoculations. These data enable us to identify cultivars resistant to both diseases that can be used for planting in problem areas, as well as selection of parental material for breeding cultivars with improved resistance.

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