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  • Author or Editor: Charles S. Krasnow x
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Pythium root rot (Pythium sp.) is ubiquitous in Michigan greenhouses that produce herbaceous ornamentals, an industry worth $393 million in the state. Disease symptoms include stunting, flowering delay, root rot, and death. Fungicides that are highly effective against pythium root rot are limited, and pathogen resistance has been documented. The objectives of this study were to determine the sensitivity of Pythium irregulare, Pythium ultimum, and Pythium aphanidermatum isolates from symptomatic herbaceous greenhouse ornamentals to the fungicide etridiazole and to determine the influence of pH and etridiazole on Pythium mycelial growth and asexual reproduction. Isolates were tested in vitro for sensitivity to etridiazole by growing the pathogen on amended V8-agar plates sealed in plastic containers to minimize fungicide loss from the vapor phase. The majority of isolates of all three species were sensitive to the fungicide with EC50 (effective concentration resulting in 50% inhibition of linear growth) values ranging from 0.10 to 5.03 μg·mL−1. Two isolates of P. irregulare had an EC90 (effective concentration resulting in 90% inhibition of linear growth) value >80 μg·mL−1. The acidity of the medium influenced the ability of etridiazole to inhibit Pythium mycelial growth and asexual reproduction. Agar plates amended with 1 μg·mL−1 etridiazole and adjusted to pH 4.5 limited the mycelial growth of two P. aphanidermatum isolates and two P. irregulare isolates by 90% and 56%, respectively, compared with amended agar at pH 6.5. Sporangial formation by P. aphanidermatum was less frequent on mycelial disks incubated in etridiazole-amended sterile distilled water (SDW) at pH 4.5 than pH 6.5 (P < 0.05). P. aphanidermatum zoospore cyst germination was less sensitive to etridiazole than sporangia or mycelial growth; however, the influence of pH and fungicide on cyst germination was significant (P < 0.01). At 250 μg·mL−1 etridiazole and solution pH 4.5, zoospore cyst germination was inhibited 99.9% compared with 94.2% at pH 6.5. In a greenhouse experiment, disease symptoms were observed on ‘Pinto White’ geranium (Pelargonium ×hortorum) in a potting medium infested with P. aphanidermatum and adjusted to pH 4.5 or 6.5; however, plant health and fresh weight were greater in low pH potting medium. Etridiazole, applied as a drench at transplant, did not improve control of root rot for plants grown at low pH (P > 0.05). Fresh weight of plants grown in infested potting medium adjusted to pH 4.5 and amended with a single drench of etridiazole (100 μg·mL−1) was reduced 20%, statistically similar to the untreated control. Adjusting the acidity of irrigation water at the time of etridiazole application in ebb and flow and flood floor production systems could be beneficial in pythium root rot management of certain ornamental crops if plants have tolerance to low pH.

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Phytophthora crown and root rot, incited by Phytophthora capsici, is an important and limiting disease in bell pepper (Capsicum annuum) production in many vegetable-producing areas of the United States. Soilborne oospores initiate disease when conditions are favorable, and polycyclic production of sporangia and zoospores occurs on infected plant tissue during the production season. Raised-bed plant culture, resistant cultivars, and oomycete-specific fungicides are commonly used to manage P. capsici. The objective of this study was to evaluate four bell pepper cultivars and four experimental breeding entries (collectively termed entries) for resistance to P. capsici in Michigan (MI) and New Jersey (NJ) and to determine the effect of a fungicide program on plant health and yield. The pepper cultivars included Camelot X3R (susceptible), Aristotle (intermediately resistant), and Paladin and Archimedes (resistant) for comparison. Disease symptoms included plant wilting and sunken necrotic stem lesions. In NJ, blighting of stems and foliage was also observed. In MI, >90% of the susceptible ‘Camelot X3R’ plants in the untreated plot wilted and died in both years of the study. All other entries had <10% plant wilting and death in 2014. In 2015, ‘Archimedes’ and ‘Paladin’ had <10% wilt and plant death; ‘Aristotle’, AP4835, 13SE12671, and AP4841 had 10% to 30% symptomatic plants. The fungicide program reduced disease to <10% for all entries except ‘Camelot X3R’ in 2014 and ‘Aristotle’ and ‘Camelot X3R’ in 2015. In NJ, ‘Paladin’, ‘Aristotle’, and ‘Camelot X3R’ (2014) and ‘Archimedes’, ‘Aristotle’, and ‘Camelot X3R’ (2015) had >30% plant wilting and death in the untreated plot. In the fungicide-treated plot, AP4841, AP4835, and AP4839 (2014), and AP4839 (2015) had <10% of plants with disease symptoms; ‘Camelot X3R’ and ‘Aristotle’ had >40% plant wilting and death in both years. In MI, marketable yield for ‘Paladin’ in fungicide-treated and untreated plots was significantly higher than the other entries in both years (P < 0.05). AP4839 was the highest yielding entry in NJ in the untreated plot, and AP4839 and ‘Archimedes’ were highest yielding in the fungicide-treated plot in 2014 and 2015, respectively. Fruit size for 13SE12671 was the largest among entries in both locations. There was no entry × fungicide program interaction in MI.

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Pythium species incite crown and root rot and can be highly destructive to floriculture crops in greenhouses, especially when irrigation water is recycled. This study assessed the performance of rapid filtration of recycled irrigation water for controlling pythium root rot of poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) in greenhouses. Two greenhouse experiments investigated the effect of filter media type (sand and activated carbon), fungicide application (etridiazole), and pathogen inoculum source (infested growing media and infested irrigation water). Rapid sand filtration consistently controlled pythium root rot of poinsettia. Significant improvements in height, weight, root rot severity, and horticultural quality were observed for the plants in the sand filter treatment, compared with the inoculated control plants. However, the activated carbon filter removed essential nutrients from the irrigation water, resulting in plant nutrient deficiency and consequently leaf chlorosis, thus reducing plant weight, height, and horticultural quality. The etridiazole application did not completely prevent root infection by Pythium aphanidermatum, but plant weight, height, and horticultural quality were not negatively affected. P. aphanidermatum spread from infested growing media to healthy plants when irrigation water was recycled without filtration. Rapid sand filtration appears to have the potential to limit the spread of P. aphanidermatum that causes root rot of greenhouse floriculture crops.

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