A study on the etiology and epidemiology of black root rot of strawberries in the Western Cape

Botha, Adri (2002-12)

Thesis (MScAgric)--University of Stellenbosch, 2002.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Historically root diseases have been a production-limiting problem for the strawberry industry worldwide. In the Western Cape Province of South Africa the most serious root disease is black root rot, which causes losses of up to 30%, annually. The aims of this study were to investigate aspects of the etiology and epidemiology of this disease in the Western Cape, and to provide information that can be incorporated in an integrated disease management strategy. In Chapter I a summary of published information on this disease is presented. Disease symptoms include severe stunting of plants, which have black, rotted, reduced root systems. Even though this disease is of great economic importance, the etiology remains unresolved. However, soilborne fungal root pathogens, particularly Pythium and Rhizoctonia spp. have been implicated as major role players. Control of this disease, as well as the other root diseases affecting strawberries, has relied on soil fumigation with broad spectrum chemical fumigants, in particular methyl bromide. However, due to the ozone depleting action of methyl bromide it was decided at the signing of the Montreal Protocol to remove this chemical from the market. This action has caused great demand for alternative measures to control root diseases on many crops including strawberries. Development of integrated disease management strategies is dependent upon a more complete understanding of the etiology, biology and ecology of the disease complex. In Chapter 2 fungal pathogens associated with diseased plants were isolated and Koch's postulates were carried out. The most frequently isolated fungal pathogens were Pythium irregulare, Rhizoctonia spp. and Cylindrocarpon destructans. Two morphotypes of Rhizoctonia were isolated viz. a brown and a white type. Pythium irregulare was isolated more frequently in July than in September, and was not isolated at all in November. Rhizoctonia spp. were present at all sampling dates but were more frequently isolated in November than at the other times. All the fungi that were tested were pathogenic and caused root lesions. Cylindrocarpon destructans and Coniella fragariae did not have a stunting effect on the plants. These results confirm a major role for Pythium and Rhizoctonia in the black root rot complex and suggest that there is a complimentary seasonal variation in occurrence between these two pathogens. The Rhizoctonia species and anastomosis groups of isolates obtained from diseased strawberries in the Western Cape Province were determined, and their pathogenicity and relative virulence assessed. Both binucleate and multinucleate types were recovered from diseased roots and identified as R. fragariae and R. so/ani, respectively. All isolates of R. solani were members of anastomosis group (AG) 6, whereas three AG types were identified among isolates of R. fragariae, viz. AG-A, AG-G and AG-I at a relative occurrence of 69%, 25%, 6% respectively. All Rhizoctonia isolates were pathogenic to strawberry, but R. solani (AG 6) was the most virulent causing severe stunting of plants. This is the first species confirmation and AG type identification of Rhizoctonia taxa causing root rot of strawberries in South Africa. An assessment of the presence and quantity of black root rot pathogens associated with soils prior to fumigation and post fumigation with methyl bromide, was made in Chapter 4. Isolations were also made from nursery plants to determine whether any black root rot pathogens were in the plants before transplanting. Results demonstrated that after fumigation the soil was free of all pathogenic fungi associated with the disease. However, the main pathogens involved in black root rot, viz. Rhizoctonia fragariae, R. solani and Pythium spp. were isolated from nursery plants. The fact that the plants are already infected with these pathogens renders the prospects for control of this disease difficult. Further studies are urgently required to develop production practices that can be included in disease management programmes. In vitro studies were carried out to determine the ECso values of different fungicides for isolates of Pythium irregulare, Rhizoctonia fragariae AG-A, AG-G and AG-I and R. solani AG 6. Benomyl, fludioxonil and tolc1ofos-methyl were used in these tests. Field trials were also conducted using these fungicides. In Chapter 5 it is shown that in general application of fungicides improved the yield and did not affect the survival rate of strawberry plants. Fludioxonil showed potential for short-term use. Applications of fungicides that targeted specific fungal genera were not sufficient to control the disease. Seasonal fluctuation of Pythium and Rhizoctonia spp. became apparent with the occurrence of Pythium being relatively high early in the season but low late in the season. Conversely, the occurrence of Rhizoctonia was low at the beginning of the season but high late in the season. In the short-term there is potential for fungicide applications as part of an integrated disease management strategy, but the economic feasibility of this practice needs to be assessed. In this study the major pathogens causing black root rot were identified in the Western Cape Province of South Africa, and important information regarding the epidemiology of the disease was reported. These results can be incorporated in an integrated management strategy to reduce losses of strawberry production, attJibutable to black root rot.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Wortelsiektes is wêreldwyd 'n produksie-beperkende probleem vir die aarbeibedryf. . Swartwortelvrot, wat jaarliks verliese van tot 30% veroorsaak, is die belangrikste wortelsiekte in die Wes-Kaap Provinsie van Suid-Afrika. Die doelwitte van hierdie studie was om aspekte van die etiologie en epidemiologie van die siekte in die Wes- Kaap te ondersoek en inligting wat in geïntegreerde siektebestuurstrategië ingesluit kan word, te voorsien. In Hoofstuk 1 word 'n opsomming van gepubliseerde inligting aangaande die siekte uiteengesit. Siektesimptome sluit ernstige verdwerging van plante met swart verotte en verkleinde wortelstelsels in. Alhoewel die siekte van groot ekonomiese belang is, is die etiologie grootliks onbekend. Grondgedraagde wortelpatogene swamme, spesifiek Pythium en Rhizoctonia spp., is egter as belangrike rolspelers geïdentifiseer. Tot dusver het die beheer van hierdie siekte sowel as ander wortelsiektes van aarbeie berus op grondberoking met breë spektrum chemiese berokingsmiddels, spesifiek metielbromied. As gevolg van die osoonafbrekende aksie van metielbromied is daar egter tydens die ondertekening van die Montreal Protocol besluit om dié middel van die mark te verwyder. Hierdie besluit het 'n groot aanvraag na alternatiewe beheermaatreëls vir wortelsiektes van verskeie gewasse, insluitende aarbeie, veroorsaak. Die ontwikkeling van geïntegreerd siektebestuurstrategieë is egter afhanklik van 'n meer volledige begrip van die etiologie, biologie en ekologie van die siektekompleks. In Hoofstuk 2 is die patogene swamme wat met die siekte geassosieer word, geïsoleer, en is Koch se postulate uitgevoer. Die mees algemeen geïsoleerde patogene swamme was Pythium irregulare, Rhizoctonia spp. en Cylindrocarpon destructans. Twee morfotipes van Rhizoctonia is geïsoleer, nl. 'n bruin tipe en 'n wit tipe. Pythium irregulare is meer dikwels in Julie as in September geïsoleer, maar glad nie in November nie. Rhizoetonia het tydens alle monstertye voorgekom, maar is meer dikwels in November geïsoleer. Al die swamme wat getoets is, was patogenies en het letsels op die wortels veroorsaak. Cylindroearpon des true tans en Coniella fragariae het nie'n verdwergingseffek op plante gehad nie. Hierdie resultate bevestig die dominante rol van Pythium en Rhizoctonia in die swartwortelvrot kompleks en dui op 'n komplementêre seisoenale variasie in die voorkoms van hierdie twee patogene. Die Rhizoctonia spesies en anastomose groepe (AG) van die isolate geisoleer vanaf siek aarbeiplante in die Wes-Kaap Provinsie is bepaal, en die patogenisiteit en relatiewe virulensie is beraam. Sowel tweekernige as multikernige tipes is vanaf siek wortels geïsoleer en respektiewelik as R. fragariae en R. so/ani geïdentifiseer. Alle isolate van R. so/ani was lede van anastomose groep 6, terwyl drie AG tipes, nl. AGA, AG-G en AG-I onder die R. fragariae isolate geïdentifiseer is met relatiewe voorkomste van 69%, 25%, 6% respektiewelik. Alle Rhizoctonia isolate was patogenies op aarbeie, maar R. so/ani (AG 6) was die mees virulente en het ernstige verdwerging van plante veroorsaak. Hierdie is die eerste bevestiging van spesies en identifisering van AG tipes van Rhizoctonia taksa wat wortelvrot van aarbeie in Suid Afrika veroorsaak. In Hoofstuk 4 is 'n beraming van die voorkoms en hoeveelheid swartwortelvrot patogene geassosieer met grond voor, en na beroking met metielbromied, gemaak. Isolasies is ook vanaf kwekeryplante gemaak om te bepaal of enige swartwortelvrot patogene voor oorplanting in die plante teenwoordig was. Die resultate het getoon dat grond na beroking vry was van alle patogeniese swamme geassosieër met die siekte. Die hoof patogene betrokke in die swartwortelvrot kompleks, nl. Rhizoctonia fragariae, R. so/ani en Pythium spp. was egter in die kwekery plante teenwoordig. Die feit dat plante reeds met hierdie patogene geïnfekteer is, maak die vooruitsigte vir die beheer van hierdie siekte moeilik. Verdere studies word dringend benodig vir die ontwikkeling van produksiepraktyke wat by siektebestuursprogramme ingesluit kan word. In vitro studies om die ECso waardes van die isolate van Pythium irregulare, Rhizoctonia fragariae AG-A, AG-G en AG-I en R. so/ani AG 6 vir die fungisiedes benomyl, fludioxonil en tolclofos-metiel te bepaal, is uitgevoer. Hierdie fungisiedes is ook in veldproewe getoets. In Hoofstuk 5 is getoon dat aanwending van fungisiedes die opbrengs verbeter het en nie die oorlewing van aarbeiplante beïnvloed het nie. Fludioxonil het potensiaal vir korttermyn gebruik getoon. Die aanwending van fungisiedes wat spesifieke swamgenera teiken, was nie voldoende om die siekte te beheer nie. Seisoenale fluktuasies van Pythium en Rhizoctonia spp. het duidelik geword met die relatief hoë voorkoms van Pythium vroeg in die seisoen, maar lae voorkoms laat in die seisoen, terwyl die voorkoms van Rhizoctonia laag was aan die begin van die seisoen, maar hoog later in die seisoen. In die korttermyn is daar potensiaal vir fungisiedtoedienings as deel van 'n geïntegreerde siektebestuurstrategie, maar die ekonomiese haalbaarheid van hierdie praktyk moet bepaal word. In hierdie studie is die hoof patogene wat swartwortelvrot van aarbeie in die Wes-Kaap Provinsie van Suid-Afrika veroorsaak geïdentifiseer, en belangrike inligting rakende die epidemiologie van die siekte is aangeteken. Hierdie resultate kan in 'n geïntegreerde bestuurstrategie geïnkorporeer word om verliese van aarbeiproduksie, toeskryfbaar aan swartwortelvrot te, verminder.

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