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Strawberry runner colonization by Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. fragariae

Ana M. Pastrana Leon: Post Doctoral Scholar

<div>Strawberry production in California requires coordinated action between high-elevation nurseries and fruit production fields. At high-elevation nurseries, mother plants are established in the spring that produce runners (= stolons), which rise to new plants (= daughter plants). In the autumn, daughter plants are used to establish plantings in commercial fruit production fields in coastal regions of California. Fusarium wilt of strawberry, caused by the soil-borne fungal pathogen <em>Fusarium oxysporum </em>f. sp. <em>fragariae</em> (<em>Fof</em>), is a growing threat to the strawberry production industry worldwide. Symptoms of the disease typically include stunting, reduced productivity, necrosis, wilting, crown discoloration, and eventual plant death. One possible explanation for the increasing incidence of Fusarium wilt in fruit-production fields is the introduction of the pathogen from high-elevation nurseries via infected transplants. The present study confirmed that <em>Fof</em> moves through stolons of infected mother plants and infects daughter plants without inducing visible symptoms. This provides a potential mechanism for movement of the pathogen from high elevation nurseries to production fields that were not previously affected by Fusarium wilt. Preliminary results suggest there may be a difference in colonization frequency between strawberry cultivars.</div>