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  • Author or Editor: Rick Kelly x
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Caladiums (Caladium ×hortulanum) are popular ornamental plants widely grown for their bright colorful leaves. Pythium root rot, caused by Pythium myriotylum, is one of the few soil-borne diseases in caladium that dramatically reduces plant growth, aesthetic value, and tuber yield. Information on the reaction of caladium cultivars to P. myriotylum is not available, but would be valuable for integrated control of this disease and for breeding new resistant cultivars. Three Pythium isolates obtained from decaying roots of plants collected from a field production site and two greenhouses were evaluated for pathogenicity and potential use in experiments to screen commercial caladium cultivars for resistance. All three isolates were found to be highly virulent; they were able to cause obvious root rotting within 3 to 5 days and severe root rotting and leaf losses on susceptible cultivars within 10 days after inoculation. Nineteen major commercial cultivars were evaluated for their resistance to these isolates. Fifteen of the cultivars were susceptible or highly susceptible to Pythium infection. Four widely grown cultivars, `Candidum', `Candidum Jr.', `Frieda Hemple', and `White Christmas', were found to have a moderate level of resistance (partial resistance) to pythium root rot. Pythium infection also caused leaf discoloration, epinasty, wilting, and collapse. Regression analyses revealed a linear relationship between the root rot and leaf loss severity on Pythium-inoculated plants.

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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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Florida is one of the top wholesale producers of bedding plants, and in 2003 was ranked fourth in annual bedding plant production and fifth in potted pansy/viola production. Evaluation of pansy cultivars is vital for continued growth of the industry. We evaluated 210 cultivars of pansy (Viola ×wittrockiana) (164 new cultivars) in replicated class tests at the University of Florida's Gulf Coast Research and Education Center at Bradenton, Fla., from 2000–04 to determine the best-of-class and use them in future trials to compare against new entries in the same class. In this report, we provide objective plant measurements of vegetative and floral characteristics as well as subjective performance ratings. Subjective ratings were on a 1 to 7 scale with the highest rating of 7 for excellent. In general, overall performance ratings (combined foliage, flower, arthropod, and disease ratings) ≥5.5 were considered outstanding. Pansy cultivars were grouped into classes based on flower color and pattern. Best-of-class selections that had an outstanding overall performance rating in one or more contested trials, never falling below 5.0 in other contested trials, were: (black class) `Accord/Banner Black Beauty', (blue shades/tints class) `Nature Blue', (blue with blotch class) `Nature Ocean', (mix class) `Panola Clear Mixture', (pink shades/tints with blotch class) `Nature Pink Shades', [purple (dark), blue-violet with white cap class] `Nature Beacon', [purple (dark), blue-violet/white face with blotch class] `Panola Purple With Face', (purple with light eye class) `Baby Bingo Lavender Blue', (white class) `Nature White', (yellow class) `Nature Yellow', (yellow with blotch and purple, blue-violet cap class) `Iona Purple & Yellow With Blotch', (yellow with blotch and red cap class) `Bingo Red & Yellow', (yellow with blotch and red cap class) `Panola Yellow With Blotch', (yellow with dark veins class) `Whiskers Yellow'. We believe these cultivars would perform well in the southern U.S. or areas of the world with similar heat and cold hardiness zones.

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Caladiums (Caladium × hortulanum) are widely grown for their bright colorful leaves. Pythium root rot, caused primarily by P. myriotylum, is one of the most important diseases in caladiums. This disease can dramatically reduce plant growth, impact plant aesthetical value, and lower tuber yield. Pythium infection in the roots may also lead to subsequent entry of Fusarium into tubers resulting in tuber rot. There has been a strong interest in the tuber production and greenhouse plant production industries to identify cultivars that are resistant or tolerant to Pythium. However, few studies have been conducted since the pathogen was identified, and little information is available regarding the existence of any possible resistance in commercial cultivars. Pythium isolates were made from diseased plants collected from different sites; their pathogenicity was confirmed using tissue culture-derived plants. Procedures were developed for oogonia spore production, inoculation, and disease severity assessment. Nineteen major commercial cultivars were inoculated at two spore densities and then maintained in greenhouses under growing conditions favorable for root rotting. Plant appearance, leaf characteristics and severity of root rotting were evaluated 2-3 times after inoculation. Observations indicated that the isolates were highly virulent. They induced visible root rot within 3-5 days, and caused a complete loss of the root system and plant death for some cultivars within 2-3 weeks after inoculation. Several cultivars, including `Candidum' and `Frieda Hemple' which are widely grown cultivars, had much less root rot, higher plant survival, and seemed to have moderate levels of resistance.

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