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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Salinas, California » Crop Improvement and Protection Research » Research » Research Project #442707

Research Project: Deployment of a Commercial Early-Warning System for Airborne Pathogens

Location: Crop Improvement and Protection Research

Project Number: 2038-22000-019-034-R
Project Type: Reimbursable Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Jan 1, 2022
End Date: Oct 31, 2024

The major disease problem on both lettuce and spinach in California is downy mildew, which is managed by routine use of preventative fungicides and disease resistant plant varieties. With the demonstrated capacity of these downy mildew pathogens to overcome both fungicide resistance and plant-based resistance, improvement of disease management strategies is imperative. Thus, further insights on airborne pathogen spore load is key for improved management and judicious fungicide usage. The goal of this project is to provide reliable airborne pathogen capture and analysis technology for lettuce and spinach growers in the Salinas Valley of California. Our objectives are to: 1) Identify three major spinach producing ranches in the Salinas Valley for deployment of spore traps for collection of airborne spores of spinach downy mildew and lettuce downy mildew, 2) Deploy Root traps at 3 locations, 3) Perform quantitative assays for dual simultaneous detection of downy mildew pathogens of spinach and lettuce, 4) Correlate spore loads quantified with environmental conditions and location for improved disease forecasting and reducing the number of prophylactic fungicide applications, 5) Conduct outreach to industry on the findings through presentations and a workshop, and 6) Improve prototype devices for in-field robustness, convenience, and ease of manufacturing.

We will deliver and deploy spore traps at three sites in the Salinas Valley. USDA will coordinate analysis of spore trap samples in Salinas, California, to determine the quantities of lettuce and spinach downy mildew pathogens present. Neighboring fields of each spore trap sites will be monitored for downy mildew incidence by USDA ARS. Weather parameters will be collected from commercially and publicly available sources and correlated with pathogen quantities and disease incidence over time by linear regression. USDA ARS will conduct outreach to industry and provide feedback to Root Applied Sciences at Root Applied Sciences provides updated versions of their spore trap technology.