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Forecasting Sclerotinia Disease on Lettuce: Toward Developing a Prediction Model for Carpogenic Germination of Sclerotia

March 2004 , Volume 94 , Number  3
Pages  268 - 279

John P. Clarkson , Kath Phelps , John M. Whipps , Caroline S. Young , Julie A. Smith , and Martyn Watling

First, second, and third authors: Horticulture Research International, Wellesbourne, Warwick, CV35 9EF, UK; fourth and fifth authors: ADAS Consulting Ltd., ADAS Wolverhampton, Woodthorne, Wergs Road, Wolverhampton, WV6 8TQ, UK; and sixth author: ADAS Consulting Ltd., ADAS Terrington, Terrington St Clement, King's Lynn, Norfolk PE34 4PW, UK

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Accepted for publication 7 November 2003.

The feasibility of developing a forecasting system for carpogenic germination of Sclerotinia sclerotiorum sclerotia was investigated in the laboratory by determining key relationships among temperature, soil water potential, and carpogenic germination for sclerotia of two S. sclerotiorum isolates. Germination of multiple burials of sclerotia to produce apothecia also was assessed in the field with concurrent recording of environmental data to examine patterns of germination under different fluctuating conditions. Carpogenic germination of sclerotia occurred between 5 and 25°C but only for soil water potentials of ≥-100 kPa for both S. sclerotiorum isolates. Little or no germination occurred at 26 or 29°C. At optimum temperatures of 15 to 20°C, sclerotia buried in soil and placed in illuminated growth cabinets produced stipes after 20 to 27 days and apothecia after 27 to 34 days. Temperature, therefore, had a significant effect on both the rate of germination of sclerotia and the final number germinated. Rate of germination was correlated positively with temperature and final number of sclerotia germinated was related to temperature according to a probit model. Thermal time analysis of field data with constraints for temperature and water potential showed that the mean degree days to 10% germination of sclerotia in 2000 and 2001 was 285 and 279, respecttively, and generally was a good predictor of the observed appearance of apothecia. Neither thermal time nor relationships established in the laboratory could account for a decline in final percentage of germination for sclerotia buried from mid-May compared with earlier burials. Exposure to high temperatures may explain this effect. This, and other factors, require investigation before relationships derived in the laboratory or thermal time can be incorporated into a forecasting system for carpogenic germination.

© 2004 The American Phytopathological Society