O. Carisse, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, 430 Gouin Boulevard, St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, Canada J3B 3E6; and
H. Van der Heyden, Compagnie de recherche Phytodata Inc., 291 Rue de la coopérative, Sherrington, Québec, Canada, J0l 2N0
Gray mold, caused by Botrytis cinerea, is an important threat for tomato greenhouse producers. The influence of airborne conidia concentration (ACC) on both flower and stem-wound infections was studied in a greenhouse maintained at a temperature of 15, 20, or 25°C using diseased tomato leaves as the unique source of dry inoculum. Spore samplers were used to monitor ACC, and a previously developed real-time qPCR assay was used to quantify airborne B. cinerea conidia. The proportion of infected flowers remained low at ACC < 10 conidia/m3; above this concentration, flower infection increased with increasing ACC. The influence of ACC on proportion of infected flowers was well described by a sigmoid model (R2 = 0.90 to 0.92). The mean proportion of infected stem wounds over the three trials was 0.021; no infected wounds were observed at ACC < 100 conidia/m3. Based on logistic regression, the probability that a stem becomes infected increased rapidly with mean probabilities of 0.24 and 0.87 at ACCs of 315 and 3,161 conidia/m3, respectively. The results suggest that the amount of airborne B. cinerea inoculum in the greenhouse is often above the action threshold for flower infection and that monitoring airborne B. cinerea inoculum could help in timing de-leafing operations.