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K.A. Jacobs and G.R. Johnson

Seedlings of eight Prunus taxa were evaluated for variation in susceptibility to a single, 4- or 5-day flooding period and root rot caused by Phytophthora cryptogea Pethybr. & Lafferty. Survival, plant defoliation, disease severity index, root necrosis, and net photosynthesis indicated that the combination of flooding and pathogen was significantly more severe to all taxa than either individual treatment. Most response variables reflected early plant dysfunction but were not correlated with long-term survival. Long-term survival was 70% in the combination treatment compared to 99% in the control group. Flooding injured seedlings more than the pathogen in most taxa. Taxa differed only slightly in tolerance to the treatments, as measured by survival rate. Prunus takesimensis Nakai had the highest survival rate of 100% and along with P. mahaleb L. and P. yedoensis Matsum. showed some tolerance to flooding and the pathogen. Prunus sargentii Rehd. had the lowest survival rate of 81% and appeared to be least tolerant to the pathogen.

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Lisa M. Oelke, Paul W. Bosland, and Robert Steiner

Despite extensive breeding efforts, no pepper (Capsicum annuum L. var. annuum) cultivars with universal resistance to phytophthora root rot and foliar blight (Phytophthora capsici Leon) have been commercially released. A reason for this limitation may be that physiological races exist within P. capsici, the causal agent of phytophthora root rot and phytophthora foliar blight. Physiological races are classified by the pathogen's reactions to a set of cultivars (host differential). In this study, 18 varieties of peppers were inoculated with 10 isolates of P. capsici for phytophthora root rot, and four isolates of P. capsici for phytophthora foliar blight. The isolates originated from pepper plants growing in New Mexico, New Jersey, Italy, Korea, and Turkey. For phytophthora root rot, nine of the 10 isolates were identified as different physiological races. The four isolates used in the phytophthora foliar blight study were all determined to be different races. The identification of physiological races within P. capsici has significant implication in breeding for phytophthora root rot and phytophthora foliar blight resistance.

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Tito P. Alcantara and Paul W. Bosland

An inexpensive, rapid, and reliable seedling screening technique was developed to identify sources of resistance to foliar blight of Capsicum annuum L. caused by the fungal pathogen Phytophthora capsici Leon. Leaf surfaces of test plants were inoculated with 500 to 1000 zoospores prepared in distilled water. Seedlings were incubated for 5 days in an easy-to-construct dew chamber and observed for symptom development. `Criollo de Morelos 334' chile seedlings, a Mexican land race resistant to root rot caused by the same fungal pathogen, were highly resistant to foliar blight. All commercial cultivars tested in this study, however, were highly susceptible. No root rot symptoms were observed in any of the foliar-inoculated plants.

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Harry A.J. Hoitink, Alex G. Stone, David Y. Han, Weidzheng Zhang, and Warren A. Dick

Compost offers the potential to suppress root rots and vascular wilts caused by soilborne plant pathogens, as well as plant diseases affecting aerial plant parts. Many factors affect the degree of control obtained. They include the decomposition level (stability) of the compost, the types of microorganisms colonizing the organic matter after peak heating of the compost, plant nutrients released by the compost (fertility), its salinity, loading rates, and other factors. Biocontrol agents in composts induce suppression through various mechanisms, including competition, antibiosis, hyperparasitism, and the induction of systemic resistance in the plant (roots as well as foliage) to pathogens. Examples of each of the effects are reviewed.

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Kevin Crosby, David Wolff, and Marvin Miller

The fungus Monosporascus cannonballus Pollock and Uecker infects melon (Cucumis melo L.) roots and causes root rot/vine decline disease, which has reduced productivity of commercial muskmelon and honeydew cultivars in South Texas. To assess the impact of the fungus on several root traits, two greenhouse experiments were carried out over two seasons. A comparison of inoculated vs. control root systems was carried out with four melon cultivars representing both susceptible (`Magnum 45' and `Caravelle') and tolerant types (`Deltex' and `Doublon'). The sand medium was inoculated with 50–60 colony forming units (CFUs) per gram of the severe Monosporascus strain, TX90-25. After a 30-day growth period, the control and inoculated root systems were carefully cleaned and evaluated. Roots were scanned by a computer and the data were analyzed by the Rhizo Pro 3.8 program. The traits of interest included total root length, average root diameter, number of root tips, number of fine roots (0–0.5 mm), and number of small roots (0.5–1 mm). Significant differences existed between the two tolerant cultivars and the two susceptible ones for four of the traits. Total root length, fine and small root length, and root tip number were greater for `Deltex' than for both susceptible cultivars and greater for `Doublon' than for `Caravelle'. The results suggest that tolerance to this pathogen is closely linked to the integrity of the root structure. The potential for improving root vigor to combat root rot/vine decline merits further investigation.

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W.F. Wilcox

Plants of four apple (Malus ×domestica Borkh.) rootstock clones, M.7, M.26, MM.111, and Ottawa (O.) 3, were grown in unamended potting medium or in the same medium infested with Phytophthora cactorum (Leb. & Cohn) Schroet., P. cambivora (Petri) Buisman, P. cryptogea Pethyb. & Laff., or P. megasperma Drechsler, causal agents of crown and root rots. Plants were flooded for either 0, 24, 48, or 72 h every 7 days for 4 months, then assessed for disease incidence and severity. Averaged across all pathogens and rootstocks, mean crown rot incidences were 2.5%, 6.3%, 19%, and 50% following weekly flooding periods of 0, 24, 48, and 72 h, respectively; when averaged across all rootstocks and flooding treatments, mean incidences of crown rot caused by P. cryptogea, P. cactorum, P. cambivora, and P. megasperma were 36%, 26%, 15%, and 8.8%, respectively; when averaged across all four pathogens, mean crown rot incidences after 72 h of flooding were 40%, 45%, 50%, and 75% for M.26, 0.3, M.7, and MM.111, respectively. In contrast, 72-h flooding periods in the absence of a pathogen were least detrimental to growth of MM.111 clones and most detrimental to shoot growth of M-26. Exceptions to general trends were reflected by statistical interactions among pathogens, rootstocks, and flooding durations, e.g., after 72-h floodings, 0.3 was the rootstock with the greatest amount of root rot caused by P. cryptogea but the least amount caused by P. megasperma. Differential disease susceptibility among rootstocks appeared greatest with respect to P. cactorum and least with respect to P. cryptogea.

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Ousmane Sy, Paul W. Bosland, and Robert Steiner

The pathogen Phytophthora capsici Leon. is known to be a limiting factor of chile pepper (Capsicum L.) production around the world. The genetics of the resistance is becoming better understood due to the specific nature of the host-pathogen interaction, i.e., all plant organs are subject to infection. It has been shown that phytophthora root rot resistance and phytophthora foliar blight resistance are under different genetic mechanisms. This study aimed at understanding the inheritance of resistance of phytophthora stem blight and to determine whether phytophthora stem blight was the same disease syndrome as phytophthora root rot and phytophthora foliar blight. Stem cuttings of a segregating F2 population and testcross progeny facilitated the ability to screen for two disease syndromes concurrently. When the three disease syndromes were compared separately, the F2 populations fit a 3 resistant (R): 1 susceptible (S) ratio and the testcross progenies fit a 1R:1S ratio. When comparative studies were performed (stem vs. foliar and stem vs. root), the F2 populations fit a 9R/R:3R/S:3S/R:1S/S ratio and the testcross fit a 1R/R:1R/S:1S/R:1S/S ratio. These ratios are consistent of a single gene controlling the resistance of each system. Therefore, phytophthora stem blight, root rot, and foliar blight are three separate disease syndromes.

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Clarice J. Coyne and Fred J. Muehlbauer

Aphanomyces root rot of pea (Pisum sativum) in many pea-growing regions. The genetic resistance to this fungal pathogen is quantitatively inherited and confers levels of tolerance to the disease. Genetic gains in selection have been hampered by the difficulty of differentiating the highly tolerant from tolerant lines in segregating populations. Reporter gene systems have been useful in studying genetic resistance to other soil-borne pathogens. We have transformed an isolate of Aphanomyces euteiches, the causal pathogen, with a reporter gene β-glucuronidase (GUS) and a selectable marker gene, hygromycin phosphotransferase or neomycin phosphotransferase. The transformed lines constitutively express GUS as determined fluorimetrically by measuring the conversion of 4-methylumbelliferyl glucuronide to 4-methlyumbelliferone. The efficacy of this GUS enzyme assay will be compared with an indirect enzyme linked immunosorbant assay (ELISA) and visual disease development ratings in inoculated seedlings of three populations recombinant inbred lines of pea segregating for tolerance.

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Desmond R. Layne, Guido Schnabel, Kerik Cox, Ralph Scorza, and Karen Bussey

Armillaria root rot (ARR) of peach caused by the soil-borne basidiomycete fungus Armillaria tabescens is causing premature decline and mortality of peach trees on most southeastern U.S. peach farms. Soil inoculum may be present both in former peach orchard sites and on sites that were once in hardwood forest. The fungus is protected under the bark of dead root pieces and may survive up to 100 years at various depths in the soil profile. No commercially available rootstocks are resistant to ARR. Since 2002, we have embarked on a multipronged strategy to develop control options to combat ARR. First, we have two replicated trials on commercial grower replant sites with a history of ARR. Trial 1 compares four preplant fumigation treatments (none, Telone II, methyl bromide, and Enzone), three rootstocks (Lovell, Halford, and Guardian) and preplant root dips with endomycorrhizal fungi. Trial 2 compares the use of raised beds, root collar excavation and preplant root dips. Both trials examine long-term productivity and tree survival. Second, we are examining the use of systemic fungicide injection into infected trees to protect trees around infection foci. Third, we are trying to develop a genetically modified ARR-resistant rootstock. We have inserted the gene encoding the gastrodia antifungal protein (GAFP—a low molecular weight lectin that binds mannose and chitin) from a Chinese orchid into tobacco (model herbaceous system) and plum (model Prunus system). GAFP has antifungal activity against several basidiomycete root rot pathogens. Pathogenicity tests with transformed tobacco plants show enhanced tolerance to several root rot pathogens when compared to nontransformed plants. Transformed plums are being multiplied for pathogenicity tests.

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Chrislyn A. Particka and James F. Hancock

Black root rot (BRR) is a widespread disease of strawberry (Fragari×ananassa Duchnesne) that causes the death of feeder roots and the degradation of structural roots. The major causal organisms of BRR include Rhizoctonia fragariae Husain and W.E. McKeen, Pythium Pringsh., and Pratylenchus penetrans (Cobb) Filipjev and Schuurmans Stekhoven. The current method of control for black root rot is methyl-bromide fumigation; however, methyl bromide is scheduled to be phased out in 2005, and its effects are short-lived in matted-row systems. The objectives of the study were to measure levels of tolerance to BRR in 20 strawberry genotypes and to determine which pathogens were present in the soil. The genotypes were planted in four blocks each of methyl-bromide fumigated and nonfumigated soil, and were evaluated for crown number, number of flowers per crown, yield, and average berry weight over 2 years. The results showed that all three pathogens were present in the field, and that there was a significant genotype × fumigation interaction for yield and crown number in both years. The cultivars Bounty, Cabot, and Cavendish, all released from the breeding program in Nova Scotia, displayed tolerance to the pathogens that cause BRR.