J. R. Viruega,
L. F. Roca,
N. Navarro, and
A. Trapero, Departamento de Agronomía, ETSIAM, Universidad de Córdoba, Campus de Rabanales, 14071-Córdoba, Spain
Olive scab caused by the mitosporic fungus Spilocaea oleagina is the most important foliar disease of olive. Limited information is available on pathogen survival and disease epidemiology; however, this information is essential for development of new control strategies. Pathogen survival and inoculum production on infected olive leaves and conidial dispersal were evaluated during 4 years in an olive orchard of the susceptible ‘Picual’ in southern Spain. Infected leaves in the tree canopy were important for pathogen survival and conidia production. The number of conidia per square centimeter of scab lesion and their viability varied greatly throughout the seasons and between years; conidial density in lesions was highest (about 1 to 5 × 105 conidia cm–2) from November to February in favorable years. Conidial density declined sharply in other periods of the year (becoming zero in summer) or in less favorable years. The pathogen did not form new conidia in scab lesions, although some pseudothecia-like structures and chlamydospores were detected on fallen leaves. Under humid conditions, the pathogen could not be detected on fallen leaves after 3 months because the leaves were colonized by saprophytic fungi. The dispersal of conidia as a function of distance from infected leaves in the tree canopy was well described by an exponential model which, together with the lack of conidia in a Burkard spore trap, showed that conidia were mainly rain-splash dispersed. Some trapped conidia were attached to olive leaf trichomes, suggesting that detached trichomes might enhance wind dispersal of conidia.