Compendium of Brassica Diseases

in HortScience
Author: Robert L. Wick1
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  • 1 Plant, Soil, and Insect Sciences University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Compendium of Brassica Diseases. S. Roger Rimmer, Vernon I. Shattuck, and Lone Buchwaldt (editors). 2007. APS Press., New York. 117 pages, with 191 color and 26 black-and-white illustrations. $59.00, Softcover, ISBN-13978-0-89054-344-3.

The Compendium of Brassica Diseases is one of the most recent publications of the American Phytopathological Society's series of compendia on plant diseases. With 46 contributors, this compendium is thorough, well-written, and up to date. The compendium is 117 pages long, has an extensive glossary of terms and is illustrated richly with color and black-and-white images. Thankfully, APS Press has abandoned the idea of placing all of the color images in the center of the compendia. The Compendium of Brassica Diseases, as well as other compendia published in the last few years, places the color images along with the text that they illustrate.

Following the Introduction, the compendium devotes five full pages to Taxonomy and Genetic Relationships, a welcome explanation for those of us who are not specialists of this important family. The eight-page chapter on Production Management covers fertility, row spacing, planting irrigation, and harvest in general terms, followed by more specific information for the major crops. In addition to the commonly grown vegetable brassicas, this chapter also includes Asian brassicas, root crops, oilseed crops, and condiment mustards. References are included.

The bulk of the compendium, 65 pages, discusses infectious diseases in the same format as previous compendia: introduction, symptoms, causal organism, disease cycle, epidemiology, and management. References follow each of the disease sections. Most of the diseases are accompanied by photomicrographs or line drawings of the pathogens and by diagnostic morphological features. I would like to have seen a photomicrograph of Alternaria bassicicola, which has fairly distinctive conidia, to compare with the Alternaria brassicae and Alternaria japonica, which are pictured. Although the authors state that A. bassicicola occurs primarily in warmer parts of the world and A. brassicae occurs in the temperate region, I commonly encounter A. bassicicola in Massachusetts and have seen A. brassicae only once. Perhaps this observation is due to where the seeds were grown as opposed to where the final crop was planted.

Anthracnose is reported to be the most destructive disease in the southeastern United States, but there are no illustrations of the fungus. Black leg, caused by the imperfect fungus Phoma lingam, is a very important pathogen of brassicas, especially in Canada; the importance is reflected by the five page in-depth coverage. Botrytis gray mold is not illustrated, but this fungus is recognized widely by growers by its characteristic gray fuzzy growth of spores. Downy mildew caused by Hyaloperonospora parasitica is illustrated nicely and is treated to nearly three complete pages. However, I think the author should have mentioned its previous name Peronospora parasitica; most people outside of plant pathology are not aware that the genus was changed to Hyaloperonospora in 2003.

After treating in detail 21 diseases caused by fungi and oomycetes, bacteria, mollicutes, viruses and nematodes are covered. Brassica workers worldwide will find that all of the major diseases, as well as a few minor ones, are covered.

Twenty-three illustrated pages are devoted to noninfectious diseases. This section includes air pollution, environment, genetic abnormalities, herbicide injury, nutritional deficiencies and postharvest disorders. There are 17 color pictures in the herbicide injury section alone, and detailed information on nearly 20 herbicides.

This compendium is one of the most nicely illustrated issues to date, from beginning to end. The Compendium of Brassica Diseases is a must for extension specialists, horticulturists, diagnosticians, and plant pathologists. It will be invaluable worldwide wherever brassicas are grown. I know of no other publication that treats brassica diseases as thoroughly. It has already received heavy usage in my diagnostic plant pathology class and will probably be worn out in a few years in our plant disease diagnostic clinic.

Robert L. Wick Plant, Soil, and Insect Sciences University of Massachusetts, Amherst

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