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Effects of a Cover Crop on Splash Dispersal of Colletotrichum acutatum Conidia

June 1998 , Volume 88 , Number  6
Pages  536 - 543

N. Ntahimpera , M. A. Ellis , L. L. Wilson , and L. V. Madden

Department of Plant Pathology, The Ohio State University, Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC), Wooster 44691

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Accepted for publication 10 March 1998.

A rain simulator, with generated rains of 11 and 30 mm/h, was used to determine the effect of a cover crop or intercrop on the splash dispersal of Colletotrichum acutatum conidia. Dispersal through sudangrass, which can be used as a ‘living mulch’, was tested at two planting densities (140 or 280 kg/ha) and two heights (5 and 20 cm) and compared with a control consisting of a bare soil. Dispersal of C. acutatum conidia was assessed by counting colonies formed from spore-bearing splash droplets deposited in sheltered petri plates containing a selective medium. Both a cover crop and rain intensity significantly affected splash dispersal as measured by the interpolated total number of colonies (denoted by Σ) from 0 to 72 cm from the inoculum source and in a time span of 61 min of generated rain (P < 0.001). However, there was no significant interaction of cover crop and intensity (P > 0.90). Dispersal with a 30-mm/h rain was higher than dispersal with a 11-mm/h rain, and presence of a cover crop significantly reduced dispersal compared with bare soil (P < 0.001). Of the treatments with sudangrass, cover crop planting density did not affect dispersal overall, but there was greater spore dispersal with the taller sudangrass at the higher planting density, due in part to the higher rate of water splashing with the tall grass compared with the short grass. Spore deposition in the petri plates could be functionally related to distance and time using a diffusion-type model, and parameter estimates could be used to explain the effects of cover crop on Σ. Although the relationship between cover crop properties and splash dispersal is complex, results show the potential beneficial effects of the cover crop on disease management.

Additional keywords: anthracnose , disease spread , Fragaria × ananassa , modeling , quantitative epidemiology , spatio-temporal dynamics .

The American Phytopathological Society, 1998