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  • Author or Editor: Krishna V. Subbarao x
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Verticillium wilt caused by Verticillium dahliae Kleb. is an economically damaging disease of iceberg lettuce on the Central Coast of California. Foliar wilting symptoms that manifest near or at peak market maturity (MM) lead to collapse of the head, making it unmarketable. Complete resistance to race 1 of the pathogen is known, but adequate levels of resistance are not available against race 2. Additional mechanisms or traits that reduce foliar symptoms (FS) are needed to lessen economic losses from this disease. Since the disease affects leaves, the harvested product, identification of iceberg cultivars that delay the onset of FS past peak MM could reduce yield loss from the disease. The goal of this research was to identify iceberg lettuce germplasm with delayed onset of FS. Diverse iceberg cultivars were evaluated in replicated field experiments for MM, FS severity, and adaptation. A few winter-adapted cultivars showed fewer FS past MM and seem to be promising candidates for breeding. These cultivars are not adapted to the California Central Coast where the disease currently predominates. Further studies will determine the usefulness of this trait for breeding improved cultivars for use in V. dahliae–infested fields. Developing new cultivars that combine currently available sources of partial resistance against race 2 with delayed onset of FS could lead to reduced crop losses should race 2 of V. dahliae become widespread.

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Lettuce drop caused by Sclerotinia minor is a damaging disease of romaine lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) production in California. Introgression of partial resistance from wild, primitive, or heirloom accessions into modern cultivars could improve integrated management approaches to the disease. Breeding methods for lettuce drop resistance are not well developed and hinder the development of new lettuce drop–resistant cultivars. The objective of this work was to develop a pedigree-based breeding method for introgression of lettuce drop resistance into modern romaine germplasm. Progeny from crosses between the partially resistant cultivar Eruption and the susceptible romaine cultivars Darkland and Hearts Delight were selected in a modified pedigree breeding scheme. Families were evaluated for disease incidence and selected for lettuce drop resistance in artificially infested field experiments conducted in the summer and fall. Infected plants of partially resistant lines commonly do not produce seed, and therefore selection of resistant plants from infested nurseries is not possible. Noninfested field experiments were used to select individual plants with improved horticultural characteristics for seed production, but from within resistant families only. Evaluation and selection of progeny using this breeding scheme occurred from the F2:3 through the F5:6 generations. In all generations, superior resistance was identified in the ‘Eruption’ × romaine crosses. The breeding scheme generated eight green romaine-type inbred lines with better resistance than the romaine parent and better head weight than ‘Eruption’. Use of the new romaine lines as parents in backcrosses to romaine produced F2:3 families with high levels of resistance. The pedigree method used in this research can be implemented with any source of resistance, but is constrained by the use of family selection and the inability to select individual plants for resistance directly. Breeding schemes that use single seed descent or molecular markers are alternative approaches that would enable selection for resistance on individual genotypes.

Open Access

Lettuce drop caused by Sclerotinia spp. is an economically important disease of lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.), and cultivars with resistance to mycelial infection by Sclerotinia sclerotiorum (Lib.) de Bary and S. minor Jagger as well as to S. sclerotiorum ascospores are needed. Assessing resistance in field experiments can be complicated by fast bolting or small stature lettuce lines that may escape rather than resist the pathogens. Therefore, methods to select resistant lines from morphologically variable populations are needed. We used S. sclerotiorum and S. minor-infested field experiments, regression analysis, field experiments with artificially high plant densities, and S. sclerotiorum ascospore inoculations to identify lettuce lines with resistance to both pathogens. Three replicated experiments in S. sclerotiorum-infested fields were conducted in Yuma, AZ, and three replicated experiments in a S. minor-infested field were conducted in Salinas, CA, using diverse populations of iceberg, romaine, leaf, butterhead, Latin, oilseed lettuce, and wild relatives of lettuces; and genetic variation for the incidence of lettuce drop from mycelial infections was identified. In two S. minor field experiments, a quadratic regression model was developed that related rapid bolting with reduced lettuce drop. Regression residuals were calculated, and eight cultivars or PIs had negative residuals in two independent field experiments, indicating higher resistance than predicted by their rate of bolting. Eruption, a small-statured Latin cultivar, had significantly lower disease levels than susceptible cultivars in experiments with high plant densities, indicating that its small size did not facilitate disease escape. Ascospore inoculations confirmed resistance in ‘Eruption’ and L. virosa SAL012, whereas the oilseed lettuce PI 251246 may have partial resistance to infection. These lines will likely be useful for development of Sclerotinia spp.-resistant lettuce cultivars.

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Historically, wilt disease caused by Verticillium dahliae has not presented a problem in California spinach production because the crop is harvested well before the symptoms develop after the stem elongation (bolting) stage. However, infested spinach seeds introduce or increase inoculum in the soil for rotational crops such as lettuce. This investigation was designed to identify verticillium wilt-resistant accessions in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) spinach germplasm collection against races 1 and 2 of V. dahliae, and to examine seed transmission of the pathogen in different spinach genotypes. In a seed health assay of 392 accessions, 21(5.4%) were positive for V. dahliae, and 153 (39%) were positive for Verticillium isaacii. A total of 268 accessions plus nine commercial cultivars were then screened against one race 1 and two race 2 isolates from spinach in replicated greenhouse experiments. Disease incidence, severity, and seed transmission through plating on NP-10 medium and real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) were assessed. There was wide variation among accessions in their response to V. dahliae with disease incidence ranging from 0% to 100%. The two race 2 isolates differed in their virulence against spinach genotypes. Resistant accessions were identified against both races 1 and 2. Recovery of V. dahliae from seeds plated on NP-10 medium and qPCR results were highly correlated (P = 0.00014). Some accessions identified as resistant based on disease incidence showed little seed transmission of the pathogen. Even though lower wilt incidence and severity generally corresponded with lower seed transmission rates, there were exceptions (r = 0.52). Variation among plants within accessions was also observed. Nevertheless, the sources of resistance identified in this study are useful for spinach cultivar improvement.

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Verticillium wilt of lettuce caused by Verticillium dahliae can cause severe economic damage to lettuce producers. The pathogen exists as two races (Races 1 and 2) in lettuce, and complete resistance to Race 1 is known. Resistance to Race 2 isolates has not been reported, and production of Race 1-resistant cultivars will likely increase the frequency of Race 2 strains. The objective of this research was to select lettuce accessions for resistance to Race 2 isolates of V. dahliae. Two independent populations totaling 314 randomly sampled PIs were evaluated for Verticillium wilt disease incidence (DI) caused by V. dahliae isolate VdLs17 in one unreplicated and two replicated greenhouse experiments. Selection for PIs with reduced DI was conducted between each experiment and plant stems were plated on semiselective media to identify colonized plants that remained non-symptomatic. No accession with complete resistance was identified, although accessions with partial resistance were selected. Genetic variation for the frequency of V. dahliae-colonized plants that remain symptomless was detected. Four PIs (169511, 171674, 204707, and 226641) were selected for further testing in three replicated greenhouse experiments and demonstrated significantly lower disease incidence than the susceptible control cultivars. The results indicate that lettuce has genetic variation for partial resistance to a Race 2 isolate of V. dahliae. The resistant PIs selected in this research are morphologically diverse, and no dependence between rate of bolting and resistance was found. PIs with partial resistance may be useful for breeding lettuce cultivars with resistance to Race 2 isolates of V. dahliae.

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The phase-out of methyl bromide as a soil fumigant for strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa, Duch.) and increasingly strict regulations of all fumigants suggest that non-fumigant methods of soil disinfestation are needed. In warm climates, solarization controls soilborne pests, but fog and lower summer soil temperatures in coastal California render it unsuitable for pest control relative to chemical fumigation. The first objective of this study was to test the efficacy of steam in controlling soil pests in strawberry production. The second objective was to determine if combining solarization with steam in coastal California would achieve greater pest control and higher yields compared with steam or solarization used alone. The final objective was to determine the economic feasibility of steam and solarization treatments relative to MBPic fumigation. Field studies were conducted at Salinas, CA, in 2007–2008 and in 2008–2009 growing seasons. Treatments included MBPic 67/33% v/v at 392 kg·ha−1, untreated control, solarization, steam, and steam + solarization. For steam + solarization plots, beds were solarized for 2 weeks before and 2 weeks after steam application. Before application of a clear film for solarization, beds were irrigated so the soil moisture was optimal for solarization. Steam was injected into the beds to reach soil temperatures to 70°C or higher up to a depth of 25 cm for 20 min. Soil temperatures during steam and solarization treatments were monitored. Control of soil pests was measured using pathogen and weed propagule bioassays in all treatments. After the 4-week treatment period, ‘Albion’ strawberry was transplanted in all plots. After transplanting, weed density, weed fresh biomass, and hand weeding time were recorded periodically in each treatment over the cropping season. Weed seed viability in steam and steam + solarization-treated plots was the same or lower than MBPic standard fumigation. Compared with MBPic fumigation, solarization alone was less effective in controlling weeds or reducing the hand-weeding time. Steam and steam + solarization treatments resulted in weed control similar to MBPic fumigation. Only certain steam treatments reduced the number of Verticillium dahliae Kleb. microsclerotia similar to the MBPic fumigation at 15-cm depth with no reductions at greater depths. There were no significant differences among treatments in 2007–2008 with regard to yield, but in 2008–2009, yields from steam treatments were comparable to the MBPic-treated plots. Economic analysis performed for the 2008–2009 season showed that net returns from steam or solarization treatments were less than MBPic treatment.

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Methyl bromide (MB) has been widely used in California cut-flower production for effective control of a broad range of soil pests, including plant pathogens and weeds. However, MB is an ozone-depleting substance, and its availability to growers is limited according to the Montreal Protocol guidelines. Steam has been suggested as a nonchemical option for preplant soil disinfestation. Five trials were conducted in protected greenhouse structure or open-field cut-flower nurseries in Monterey, San Luis Obispo, and Ventura counties to evaluate the effect of steam application, alone or in combination with solarization, on soilborne plant pathogen populations, weed densities, and crop growth. Several steam application methods were used including steam blanket, spike-hose, buried drip irrigation lines, or drain tile, and these varied among trials. Calla lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica) nursery trials initiated in 2007 and 2008 showed that steam alone or with solarization was similar to or more effective than MB:chloropicrin (MBPic), applied via drip lines, in controlling weeds and Verticillium dahliae at 6-inch depth. Trials conducted in Spring and Fall 2009 in an oriental hybrid lily (Lilium sp.) nursery showed that, 112 days after steam treatment (DAT) in the spring, the steam (spike-hose) treatment had fewer Fusarium oxysporum propagules than the MB treatment. Lily plant growth in the steam-treated plots was similar to MB-treated plots and taller than in control plots. In the fall trial, fewer lily plants emerged by 44 DAT in the untreated control than in steam- and MB-treated plots and steam was not as effective as MB in reducing Pythium populations. In the 2010 sunflower (Helianthus annuus) and bupleurum (Bupleurum griffithii) trial, all steam treatments reduced Pythium and Phytophthora cactorum survival compared with the untreated control plots, whereas weed densities were reduced only in the spike-hose steam-treated plots. These trial studies showed that steam appeared as effective as MB in suppressing pathogens and weeds and improving crop growth in cut-flower nurseries. However, additional information on fuel consumption, treatment time efficiency, and long-term effects of steam treatment on soil health are needed before steam can be recommended as a viable alternative to MB in California cut-flower nurseries.

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