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Comparative Survival of Sclerotia of Sclerotinia minor and S. sclerotiorum

June 2008 , Volume 98 , Number  6
Pages  659 - 665

B. M. Wu, K. V. Subbarao, and Y.-B. Liu

First and second authors: Department of Plant Pathology, University of California, Davis, U.S. Agricultural Research Station, 1636 E. Alisal St., Salinas, CA 93905; and third author: USDA-ARS, U.S. Agricultural Research Station, 1636 E. Alisal St., Salinas, CA 93905.

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Accepted for publication 19 February 2008.

Survival of sclerotia of Sclerotinia minor and S. sclerotiorum was compared in irrigated fields during the summer in two major lettuce production areas in California. More than 50% sclerotia of S. sclerotiorum compared with 4 and 35% of S. minor remained viable after 24 weeks of burial at 15 and 5 cm depths, respectively, in the San Joaquin Valley while >80% of sclerotia survived in the Salinas Valley for both species. The results explain in part the lower infections from S. minor in the San Joaquin Valley. To identify factors that contribute to the rapid decline in the viability of sclerotia, the effects of soil moisture, temperature, and oxygen levels were studied in laboratory. More than 90% of sclerotia of both species survived for at least 3 months in sterilized dry soils at temperatures between 15 and 40°C. Soil moisture did not affect survival at 15 and 25°C. At 35°C, however, survival rates were significantly lower at high (--0.3 to --0.01 MPa) water potential than at low (<--1.0 MPa) water potential. Incubation under ultralow oxygen concentration (0.01%) significantly reduced survival of sclerotia in nonautoclaved moist soils at 25°C, with less than 2% sclerotia surviving over 4 weeks compared with about 45% sclerotia surviving at the ambient oxygen level (21%). The combination of high temperature, high soil moisture, and reduced oxygen in irrigated fields contribute to the lower survival of both Sclerotinia species and the responses of the two species to these conditions shape their relative geographical distribution.

Additional keywords:lettuce drop, irrigation.

© 2008 The American Phytopathological Society