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Keywords:

  • Colletotrichum acutatum;
  • defence enzyme;
  • plasticulture;
  • hemibiotrophic infection;
  • strawberry

ABSTRACT

Anthracnose fruit rot (AFR) caused by Colletotrichum acutatum is one of the most devastating diseases of strawberry (Fragaria × ananassa) in plasticulture systems in the Southeast US. Host resistance offers the best option to limit crop losses in both nursery and fruiting fields. To evaluate levels of anthracnose resistance and elucidate the role of foliar and fruit resistance in overall field AFR resistance, we tested 14 strawberry genotypes including numerous selections from the North Carolina State University strawberry breeding programme. Inoculations of plug plants with three representative C. acutatum isolates prior to field-set indicated that the commercially standard cultivar Chandler was highly susceptible, with an average fruit rot incidence of over 72% the following spring. In contrast, breeding lines such as NC C99-13 and NC C02-63 showed superior resistance with AFR incidence values of 23.6% and 11.1%, respectively, and showed superior marketable yields. An average hemibiotrophic infection (HI) severity on foliage (percent leaf area covered with acervular growth after paraquat treatment and incubation) did not correlate (r = 0.57) well with in vitro AFR severity on detached fruit, indicating different mechanisms may be operative for resistance to foliar HI and fruit rot resistance. Multiple regression analysis indicated that in vitro fruit rot resistance expressed by lesion diameter and severity of foliar hemibiotrophic infections may be utilized to predict field AFR incidence. Strawberry genotypes bred for resistance against both fruit rot and foliar HI could be effectively selected by using rank-sum classification methods and this process offers an effective strategy to advance selections for superior AFR field resistance.