Screening for Resistance to Pythium Root Rot among Twenty-three Caladium Cultivars

in HortTechnology
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  • 1 University of Florida/IFAS, Environmental Horticulture Department, Gulf Coast Research and Education Center, 14625 CR672, Wimauma, FL 33598.
  • | 2 University of Florida, Doctor of Plant Medicine Degree Program, 1453 Fifield Hall, Gainesville, FL 32611.

Caladiums (Caladium ×hortulanum) are widely grown as pot or landscape plants for their attractive leaves. Pythium root rot (Pythium myriotylum) is one of the most damaging diseases in caladium, severely reducing plant growth, aesthetic value, and tuber yield. Twenty-three commercial cultivars were inoculated with three aggressive isolates of P. myriotylum and evaluated for their resistance to root rot. Three cultivars, `Apple Blossom', `Blizzard', and `Etta Moore', were found to have a moderate level of resistance (partial resistance) to pythium root rot. The rest of these cultivars were susceptible or highly susceptible to Pythium infection, losing up to 94% of their root tissue to rotting within 10 days after inoculation. Data indicated a linear relationship between root rot severity and leaf loss severity on Pythium-inoculated plants and highlight the importance of controlling pythium root rot in caladium pot plant and tuber production. Comparison of some recent releases with their parents for pythium root rot resistance suggests the potential of developing new resistant caladium cultivars using the identified sources of resistance.

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