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Keywords:

  • anthracnose fruit rot;
  • relative humidity;
  • ripe rot;
  • temperature;
  • Vaccinium corymbosum ;
  • wetting period

Anthracnose fruit rot of blueberries caused by Colletotrichum acutatum is a serious problem in humid blueberry-growing regions of North America. In order to develop a disease prediction model, environmental factors that affect mycelial growth, conidial germination, appressorium formation and fruit infection by C. acutatum were investigated. Variables included temperature, wetness duration, wetness interruption and relative humidity. The optimal temperature for mycelial growth was 26°C, and little or no growth was observed at 5 and 35°C. The development of melanized appressoria was studied on Parafilm-covered glass slides and infection was evaluated in immature and mature blueberry fruits. In all three assays, the optimal temperature for infection was identified as 25°C, and infections increased up to a wetness duration of 48 h. Three-dimensional Gaussian equations were used to assess the effect of temperature and wetness duration on the development of melanized appressoria (R2 = 0·89) on Parafilm-covered glass slides and on infection incidence in immature (R2 = 0·86) and mature (R2 = 0·90) blueberry fruits. Interrupted wetness periods of different durations were investigated and models were fitted to the response of melanized appressoria (R2 = 0·95) and infection incidence in immature (R2 = 0·90) and mature (R2 = 0·78) blueberry fruits. Additionally, the development of melanized appressoria and fruit infection incidence were modelled in relation to relative humidity (R2 = 0·99 and 0·97, respectively). Three comprehensive equations were then developed that incorporate the aforementioned variables. The results lay the groundwork for a disease prediction model for anthracnose fruit rot in blueberries.