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Open access

Melinda A. Miller-Butler, Barbara J. Smith, Brian R. Kreiser, and Eugene K. Blythe

Strawberry anthracnose diseases are caused primarily by three Colletotrichum species: C. acutatum J.H. Simmonds, C. fragariae A.N. Brooks, and C. gloeosporioides (Penz.) Penz. & Sacc. Molecular markers are being used in breeding programs to identify alleles linked to disease resistance and other positive agronomic traits. In our study, strawberry cultivars and breeding germplasm with known anthracnose susceptibility or resistance to the three anthracnose-causing Colletotrichum species were screened for two sequence characterized amplified region (SCAR) markers linked to the Rca2 gene. The Rca2 resistant allele SCAR markers were associated with varying degrees of significance for a strawberry plant’s anthracnose resistance to C. fragariae but not to C. acutatum or C. gloeosporioides. Although the presence or absence of the markers associated with the Rca2 resistance gene is an imperfect indicator of anthracnose resistance, it may serve as a useful starting point in selecting germplasm for breeding programs.

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Eric T. Stafne, Amir Rezazadeh, Melinda Miller-Butler, and Barbara J. Smith

White drupelet disorder (WDD) is a problem that occurs during the ripening stage in some blackberry (Rubus subgenus Rubus) cultivars. Although berries affected with a few white drupelets may taste fine, they are unpleasant aesthetically, and this may lead to negative consumer perceptions and economic ramifications. During 2 years of observational studies and field trials (2016 and 2017), we evaluated changes in three susceptible cultivars in Mississippi affected by WDD. ‘Chickasaw’, ‘Kiowa’, and ‘Sweetie Pie’ berries were harvested twice per week and assessed for WDD. Weather conditions differed substantially during harvest in 2016 and 2017, with 2017 being cooler and rainier which resulted in a lower incidence of WDD. Compared with 2016, in 2017, the overall percentage of berries exhibiting WDD dropped from 22% to 12% for ‘Sweetie Pie’, 6% to 3% for ‘Chickasaw’, and 8% to 3% for ‘Kiowa’. The soluble solids concentration was highest in ‘Sweetie Pie’, 11.9% and 9.5% for 2016 and 2017, respectively. For all cultivars examined, the soluble solids concentration of extracted white drupelets was substantially lower than regular drupelets. The value for skin break force for white drupelets was higher than that for black drupelets, 0.99 N vs. 0.29 N, respectively. In 2017, an about 30% shadecloth treatment had a significantly positive impact by decreasing WDD symptoms in all cultivars by 63% when compared with non-shaded plants, but soluble solids concentration was lower. Our results indicate that rain and shadecloth decrease symptoms of WDD. Therefore, growers may be able to use overhead irrigation and shade to reduce WDD symptoms.

Open access

Melinda A. Miller-Butler, Barbara J. Smith, Kenneth J. Curry, and Eugene K. Blythe

Inoculation of detached strawberry leaves with Colletotrichum species may provide an accurate, rapid, nondestructive method of identifying anthracnose-resistant germplasm. The purpose of this study was to statistically compare two methods (visual and image analysis) of evaluating disease severity of strawberry germplasm screened for anthracnose resistance. Detached leaves of 77 susceptible and resistant strawberry clones were inoculated with one Colletotrichum gloeosporioides (Penz.) Penz. & Sacc. and two C. fragariae A. N. Brooks isolates. Anthracnose disease symptoms on each leaf were assessed quantitatively via computer-based image analysis to determine percentage lesion area and qualitatively by two independent raters using a visual disease severity rating scale (0 = no symptoms to 5 = entire leaf dead). The two visual raters’ average disease severity ratings (n = 3413) were in substantial agreement with a weighted Cohen’s kappa coefficient (k) of 0.80 [95% confidence interval (CI) 0.79–0.82]. There was a strong positive correlation between percent lesion area determined by image analysis and the visual disease scores of the two raters (r p = 0.79). Image analysis provided a precise measurement of percent lesion area of infected leaves while visual assessment provided more rapid results. Our results indicate that detached leaf inoculations can be used as a rapid preliminary screen to separate anthracnose-susceptible from -resistant germplasm in large populations within breeding programs. It also may be used for assessing the resistance/susceptibility of parental breeding lines to various Colletotrichum species and isolates, for mapping germplasm for resistance genes, and in pesticide development studies.