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Variation and Heritability of Phenology in the Fungus Monilinia vaccinii-corymbosi on Blueberry

April 2000 , Volume 90 , Number  4
Pages  390 - 395

Jeffrey S. Lehman and Peter V. Oudemans

First author: Otterbein College, Department of Life and Earth Sciences, Westerville, OH 43081; and second author: Rutgers University, Blueberry and Cranberry Research and Extension Center, Lake Oswego Road, Chatsworth, NJ 08019

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Accepted for publication 10 December 1999.

The germination of field-collected pseudosclerotia and the development of apothecia from eight New Jersey populations of the mummy berry fungus Monilinia vaccinii-corymbosi were evaluated under controlled conditions in the greenhouse. Development data for apothecia were used to describe the timing of apothecium formation and to estimate broad- and narrow-sense heritabilities of fungal phenology. Mean development times for the formation of apothecia ranged from 35.4 to 54.7 days. The mean development times for populations collected from early-season cv. Weymouth ranged from 35.4 to 39.6 days and were significantly shorter than the development times for three of the four populations collected from late-season cv. Jersey (46.9 to 54.7 days) or for the population collected from mixed stands of cultivated blueberries (42.7 days). The development of populations from late cultivars planted in very close proximity to early cv. Weymouth was early (36.5 to 39.0 days) and not significantly different from the development of populations collected from cv. Weymouth. Phenotypic and genetic variances of apothecium development for individual populations ranged from 18.9 to 44.8 and 7.2 to 30.9, respectively. Broad-sense heritabilities of apothecia development for each fungal population, calculated by partitioning phenotypic variation into genetic and environmental components, ranged from 0.31 to 0.78. Narrow-sense heritabilities of apothecia development, based on parent-offspring regression, ranged from 0.58 to 0.78. These results indicate that populations of M. vaccinii-corymbosi differ in phenology and that a significant portion of the phenological variation within populations is genetic. Thus, it is plausible to propose that the phenology of apothecium development is a component of fungal fitness and that host phenology can influence the timing of pathogen development.

Additional keywords: disease avoidance, fungal adaptation, quantitative fungal genetics, Vaccinium corymbosum .

The American Phytopathological Society, 2000