Associate Professor, Clemson University, Department of Plant Pathology & Physiology, Coastal Research & Education Center
Research Geneticist, USDA, ARS, U.S. Vegetable Laboratory, Charleston, SC 29414
Growth-room and field experiments were conducted to develop methods of studying resistance in Brassica oleracea crops to Rhizoctonia solani anastomosis groups (AG) 2-1 and 4, causal agents of wirestem. Seedlings of 12 cultivars (3 each of broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and collard) at the four- to five-leaf stage were transplanted to trays in a growth room and covered with steamed soil infested with cornmeal-sand cultures or sclerotia of R. solani or to fumigated field plots infested with sclerotia. The percent healthy, diseased, and dead plants was assessed every 3 to 5 days for 2 weeks in the growth room and for 3 weeks in field trials. At harvest, plants were dug out with roots intact and rated for wirestem severity. In most experiments, wirestem incidence (percent diseased and dead plants) stabilized within 10 to 14 days after inoculation. Inoculation with cornmeal-sand cultures of both AGs and sclerotia of AG-4 resulted in severe wirestem in all experiments, whereas sclerotia of AG-2-1 were less effective in the growth room and not effective in the field. Percent healthy and surviving (healthy plus diseased) plants, area under the disease progress curve (AUDPC), and wirestem severity all separated the most susceptible from the partially resistant cultivars more consistently than fresh weight of inoculated plants expressed as a percentage of noninoculated plant weight. Wirestem severity and AUDPC were always negatively and significantly (P ≤ 0.01) correlated with percent healthy plants. Although genotype by environment interactions were observed, the cauliflower cvs. Snowcone and Snow Crown were severely diseased in all experiments, whereas collard cv. Blue Max was consistently and significantly (P ≤ 0.05) less diseased.