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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Early Detection of Pythium Stress in Floriculture Crops Using Minimally Invasive Techniques

Location: Application Technology Research Unit

Project Number: 5082-21000-017-01
Project Type: Specific Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Aug 28, 2009
End Date: Jun 30, 2014

Objective:
The objective is to detect and evaluate the early stress response of seed geranium following exposure to Pythium, a microorganism that is ubiquitous in greenhouse setting, and can easily spread through the use of infested soil and reuse of contaminated irrigation water. The implementation of non-destructive or minimally invasive techniques to detect and evaluate plant performance early in the interaction process has become possible through the use of portable and computer-based devices. The techniques allow for real time monitoring and evaluation of periodical progression of stress response of the same plant or the same part of the plant. Data generated from the study should give us insight into developing strategies that could be implemented in order to lessen the biotic stress from such pathogens and to improve and optimize plant quality and profitability.

Approach:
Geranium seed cv. Red Maverick will be sown in Oasis Cubes for ~2 weeks before being transplanted into 6” pots containing soilless medium into either greenhouse or growth chamber environments. Controlled environmental conditions such as light level of 200-400 micromol m-2 s-1 PAR, and temperature at 23 C will be maintained throughout the duration of the study. Other aspects of plant maintenance such as watering, fertilization, and insect control will be implemented as required. The system will utilize computer-based data monitoring and recording of temperature, humidity, light, and soil moisture. Pythium ultimum and P. aphanidermatum will be utilized, and were originally isolated from infected plants and kept in Potato Dextrose Agar (PDA) in Toledo. Tested pathogens will be cultured in artificial media (PDA) for 1-2 weeks prior to inoculation at 23 C. The inoculum density will be adjusted to 104 spores ml-1. The inoculation procedure will be done by adding 100 ml of spore suspension from each of the tested pathogen to each pot. Two major control treatments will be included. One is the negative control where no pathogen will be tested. And the other will include treating of the plants with the fungicide Subdue Maxx prior to adding the spore suspension of each of the pathogen. Periodic response of the challenged plants to treatments will be evaluated using non-destructive techniques which include visual inspection of symptom development and disease severity, chlorophyll content using a hand-held chlorophyll content meter (CCM200), leaf fluorescence with a portable fluorometer (OP-30), soil moisture, and whole-plant gas exchange with a system developed at Ohio State.

Last Modified: 10/21/2014
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