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Interactions Between Coniothyrium minitans and Sclerotinia minor Affect Biocontrol Efficacy of C. minitans

March 2011 , Volume 101 , Number  3
Pages  358 - 366

P. Chitrampalam, B. M. Wu, S. T. Koike, and K. V. Subbarao

First, second, and fourth authors: Department of Plant Pathology, University of California, Davis, c/o United States Agricultural Research Station, Salinas, CA 93905; and third author: University of California Cooperative Extension, 1432 Abbott Street, Salinas 93901.

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Accepted for publication 2 October 2010.

Coniothyrium minitans, marketed as Contans, has become a standard management tool against Sclerotinia sclerotiorum in a variety of crops, including winter lettuce. However, it has been ineffective against lettuce drop caused by S. minor. The interactions between C. minitans and S minor were investigated to determine the most susceptible stage in culture to attack by C. minitans, and to determine its consistency on S minor isolates belonging to four major mycelial compatibility groups (MCGs). Four isolates of S. minor MCG 1 and 5 each from MCGs 2 and 3 and one from MCG 4 were treated in culture at purely mycelial, a few immature sclerotial, and fully mature sclerotial phases with a conidial suspension of C. minitans. Sclerotia from all treatments were harvested after 4 weeks, air dried, weighed, and plated on potato dextrose agar for recovery of C. minitans. S. minor formed the fewest sclerotia in plates that received C. minitans at the mycelial stage; C. minitans was recovered from nearly all sclerotia from this treatment and sclerotial mortality was total. However, the response of MCGs was inconsistent and variable. Field experiments to determine the efficacy of C. minitans relative to the registered fungicide, Endura, on lettuce drop incidence and soil inoculum dynamics were conducted from 2006 to 2009. All Contans treatments had significantly lower numbers of sclerotia than Endura and unsprayed control treatments, and drop incidence was as low as in Endura-treated plots (P > 0.05). Although the lower levels of lettuce drop in Contans treatments were correlated with significantly lower levels of sclerotia, the lower levels of lettuce drop, despite the presence of higher inoculum in the Endura treatment, was attributable to the prevention of infection by S. minor. A useful approach to sustained lettuce drop management is to employ Contans to lower the number of sclerotia in soil and to apply Endura to prevent S. minor infection within a cropping season.

© 2011 The American Phytopathological Society