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  • Author or Editor: Swee-Suak Ko x
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Black mold (BM), caused by Aspergillus niger Tiegh., is a common onion (Allium cepa L.) postharvest disease under hot and humid storage conditions. This study aimed to develop a BM screening protocol, to evaluate onion cultivars for resistance. The effects of pathogen isolate, inoculum density, incubation temperature, and inoculation method on severity of BM were investigated in designing the screening protocol. Variation in virulence was observed and two highly virulent subcultures, An4-2 and An39-3, were selected for study. Disease severity, both in lesion size and sporulation degree, increased with higher inoculum densities and incubation temperatures. In contrast, small lesions and no sporulation were observed when onion scales were inoculated with 1 × 104 spores/mL or incubated at temperatures lower than 20 °C. Inoculation of onion scales or entire bulbs were compared and scale inoculation correlated better with BM incidence in storage. The procedure for BM screening protocol included: wound inoculation of onion slices with 40 μL inoculum suspension of 1 × 105 spores/mL, incubation at 25 °C with 12 hour photoperiod, and rating lesion diameter and sporulation 4 days after inoculation. Using this screening protocol, 42 onion cultivars were evaluated and cultivars with better storability such as `Red Pinoy', `Serrana', `Dehydrator No.3', and `Moonlight' were tolerant to A. niger. These cultivars showed small lesions and no sporulation during screening. On the other hand, cultivars with poor storability like `Texas Early Grano 502', `Granex 429', and `Explorer' exhibited larger lesions with profuse sporulation. Lesion diameter caused by the scale inoculation correlated significantly with bulb storage loss (r = 0.51, P < 0.01) as well as with bulb dry matter (r = -0.48, P < 0.01) and total soluble solids (r = - 0.51, P < 0.01). The screening protocol and tolerant materials are now successfully used in the Asian Vegetable Research and Development Center onion breeding program for resistance to black mold.

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In the tropics, onion (Allium cepa L.) bulbs are usually stored in shelters under ambient conditions resulting in severe storage losses. This study was aimed at determining whether variation in bulb storability exists among short-day onion cultivars and whether the trait can be improved through conventional breeding. Twelve onion cultivars with different degrees of storability were selected from preliminary experiments. Bulbs of selected cultivars were grown and stored for 3 months under ambient conditions. Observations were made on disease incidence at harvest, percentage diseased bulbs, and storage disease incidence of bacterial soft rot [BR (Pseudomonas gladioli pv. alliicola Burkholder)], black mold [BM (Aspergillus niger Tiegh.)], and fusarium basal rot (Fusarium oxysporum Schlechtend.:Fr. f. sp. cepae) after 3 months of storage. Data on bulb characteristics such as bulb fresh weight (FW), dry matter (DM) content, total soluble solids (TSS), and pyruvic acid content were recorded at harvest. Mean storage losses of cultivars ranged from 21% to 99% over 3 years. Diseases were the major causes of storage losses, with BR and BM being the most predominant. Performance of most traits (including storage losses) was significantly influenced by year (Y), cultivar (G), and Y × G interaction. Heavy rainfall during bulb development in 1997 may have contributed to higher disease incidence at harvest, higher percentage of diseased bulbs during storage, and lower DM, and TSS of the cultivars. Cultivars with good storability, such as `Red Pinoy' and `Serrana', were less sensitive to stressful environments and high disease pressure. Incidence of storage diseases was significantly correlated with DM (r = -0.65 to -0.84) and TSS (r = -0.66 to -0.87), as well as incidence of BR (r = 0.57 to 0.94) in each year. Thus, they could be good indicators for evaluating storability. Cultivars with good storability tended to have small bulbs, as average bulb FW was positively correlated with incidence of storage diseases. Disease incidences on `Red Pinoy' and `Serrana', both in the field and in storage, were significantly lower than in the other cultivars, indicating they are tolerant to major storage diseases and that they could be used as donor parents for genetic improvement of onion storability.

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