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Characterization of Fusarium Isolates from Asparagus Fields in Southwestern Ontario and Influence of Soil Organic Amendments on Fusarium Crown and Root Rot

April 2014 , Volume 104 , Number  4
Pages  403 - 415

Ana Borrego-Benjumea, María J. Basallote-Ureba, José M. Melero-Vara, and Pervaiz A. Abbasi

First and fourth authors: Southern Crop Protection and Food Research Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, 1391 Sandford Street, London, Ontario, Canada N5V 4T3; first and third authors: Instituto de Agricultura Sostenible, CSIC, Alameda del Obispo S/N, P.O. Box 4084, 14080 Córdoba, Spain; and second author: IFAPA Centro Las Torres-Tomejil, Apdo. 41200, Alcalá del Río, Sevilla, Spain.

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Accepted for publication 7 November 2013.

Fusarium crown and root rot (FCRR) of asparagus has a complex etiology with several soilborne Fusarium spp. as causal agents. Ninety-three Fusarium isolates, obtained from plant and soil samples collected from commercial asparagus fields in southwestern Ontario with a history of FCRR, were identified as Fusarium oxysporum (65.5%), F. proliferatum (18.3%), F. solani (6.4%), F. acuminatum (6.4%), and F. redolens (3.2%) based on morphological or cultural characteristics and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis with species-specific primers. The intersimple-sequence repeat PCR analysis of the field isolates revealed considerable variability among the isolates belonging to different Fusarium spp. In the in vitro pathogenicity screening tests, 50% of the field isolates were pathogenic to asparagus, and 22% of the isolates caused the most severe symptoms on asparagus. The management of FCRR with soil organic amendments of pelleted poultry manure (PPM), olive residue compost, and fish emulsion was evaluated in a greenhouse using three asparagus cultivars of different susceptibility in soils infested with two of the pathogenic isolates (F. oxysporum Fo-1.5 and F. solani Fs-1.12). Lower FCRR symptom severity and higher plant weights were observed for most treatments on ‘Jersey Giant’ and ‘Grande’ but not on ‘Mary Washington’. On all three cultivars, 1% PPM consistently reduced FCRR severity by 42 to 96% and increased plant weights by 77 to 152% compared with the Fusarium control treatment. Populations of Fusarium and total bacteria were enumerated after 1, 3, 7, and 14 days of soil amendment. In amended soils, the population of Fusarium spp. gradually decreased while the population of total culturable bacteria increased. These results indicate that soil organic amendments, especially PPM, can decrease disease severity and promote plant growth, possibly by decreasing pathogen population and enhancing bacterial activity in the soil.

Additional keywords: molecular analysis.

© 2014 The American Phytopathological Society