Location: Horticultural Crops Research2013 Annual Report
1a. Objectives (from AD-416):
Objective 1: Identify and characterize key pathogens to pinpoint critical pathogen vulnerabilities and develop targeted disease management strategies. Objective 2: Identify plant germplasm and cultivars of small fruits resistant to economically-important soilborne diseases. Objective 3: Expand knowledge of genomic features and regulatory mechanisms in biological control strains of Pseudomonas spp. to develop more consistent and effective tools for biologically-based disease management.
1b. Approach (from AD-416):
Determine the prevalence and characterize the population diversity of important soilborne pathogens affecting horticultural crops. Results from this research will identify specific pathogen populations that constrain production of horticultural crops. These populations can be targeted in the future to develop more effective, economical, and environmentally-acceptable disease management systems. Evaluate germplasm of black raspberry (Rubus occidentalis) for resistance to Verticillium wilt, caused by V. dahliae, and germplasm of red raspberry (Rubus ideaus) for resistance to the root lesion nematode, P. penetrans. Our research will identify Rubus genotypes and raspberry cultivars that are resistant to these soilborne diseases, and can be deployed in horticultural production systems in the future. Develop improved knowledge of the mechanisms by which the biological control agent Pseudomonas fluorescens Pf-5 suppresses disease. Results from this research will enable pathologists, horticulturists, and growers to develop more effective and reliable biological controls for soilborne diseases of horticultural crops.
3. Progress Report:
Towards our first objective to identify key pathogens limiting the production of nursery crops, we completed population genetic diversity analyses of 50 Pythium irregulare isolates from three forest nurseries. P. irregulare exhibited low genetic diversity and there was evidence for migration of P. irregulare among nurseries. This information is essential to develop strategies to minimize pathogen movement between nurseries. We also surveyed nurseries for the presence of the soil-borne pathogen Verticillium dahliae and detected the pathogen on five plant hosts in 6 of the 9 sampled nurseries. To understand the genetic diversity of the virus transmitting plant-parasitic nematode Xiphinema americanum, populations of the nematode were collected from 12 geographically disparate locations across the U.S. from different crops and in varying association with viruses. Molecular data demonstrated the presence of three distinct lineages of X. americanum. These results will be used to develop a diagnostic tool to distinguish virus-transmitting from non-transmitting nematode populations. Towards our second objective of identifying small fruit germplasm with resistance to soilborne pathogens, we evaluated 17 Rubus genotypes in greenhouse trials and identified two genotypes that exhibited resistance to V. dahliae. Repeated trials are necessary to confirm results. Information will be used to establish damaging threshold inoculum levels at nurseries for susceptible hosts and to develop resistant Rubus genotypes. On raspberry, a field trial was established in collaboration with Washington State University to evaluate the response of 8 raspberry varieties to Pratylenchus penetrans. This long-term trial will provide valuable data upon which growers can base management decisions in the future. Towards our objective of developing knowledge of mechanisms of biological control of plant diseases, we continued to build a library of mutants of the biological control strain Pseudomonas protegens Pf-5, which produces at least nine antibiotic compounds. To date, the library includes 179 mutants, each having a deletion in one to nine genes for the biosynthesis of those compounds. We evaluated culture extracts of representative mutants to confirm that they lack production of the antibiotic corresponding to each biosynthetic gene deleted. We also tested the mutants in a series of biological assays to determine which antibiotics produced by Pf-5 are responsible for suppression of selected fungi. Analysis of the genomic sequence of Pf-5 revealed gene clusters that are likely, but not known, to produce antibiotics. In collaboration with a natural product chemist, we identified the product of one of these gene clusters as toxoflavin and quantified the levels of toxoflavin production by Pf-5.