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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Food Quality Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #386816

Research Project: Development of Novel Tools to Manage Fungal Plant Pathogens that Cause Postharvest Decay of Pome Fruit to Reduce Food Waste

Location: Food Quality Laboratory

Title: Incidence, speciation, and morpho-genetic diversity of penicillium spp. causing blue mold of stored pome fruits in Serbia

item ZEBELJAN, ALEKSANDRA - University Of Belgrade
item DUDUK, NATASA - University Of Belgrade
item VUCKOVIC, NINA - University Of Belgrade
item Jurick, Wayne
item VICO, IVANA - University Of Belgrade

Submitted to: The Journal of Fungi
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/25/2021
Publication Date: 11/28/2021
Citation: Zebeljan, A., Duduk, N., Vuckovic, N., Jurick II, W.M., Vico, I. 2021. Incidence, speciation, and morpho-genetic diversity of penicillium spp. causing blue mold of stored pome fruits in Serbia. The Journal of Fungi. 7(12):1019.

Interpretive Summary: Blue mold is caused by a fungus that results in fruit decay in storage. This decay reduces quality in infected fruits used to make jams and jellies and may contain the mycotoxin patulin. This problem is well documented in the US, and in other parts of the world, but has not been investigated in many European countries. Therefore, a two year survey was conducted in Serbia, a main producer of apple, pear, and quince in Europe to assess the occurrence of blue mold in storage. Data from this study showed that all stored pears, apple, and quince were susceptible to blue mold, revealed the specific species of blue mold fungi, and provide genetic fingerprints of the isolates in a public database to enable worldwide comparisons. While many new findings from this study are now made known, this information will be useful to other scientists, producers, and ultimately the public as findings can be used to design new blue mold detection tools and to help guide identification and mitigation strategies to reduce food waste, limit losses, and increase food security.

Technical Abstract: Blue mold, caused by Penicillium spp., is one of the most economically important postharvest diseases of pome fruits, globally. Apple is the most widely grown pome fruit in Serbia, and the distribution of Penicillium spp. responsible for postharvest decay is unknown. Hence, a two-year survey, in 2014 and 2015, where four different pome fruits (apple, pear, quince, and medlar) with blue mold symptoms were collected from 20 storage locations throughout Serbia. Detailed morphological characterization, analysis of virulence in three apple cultivars, and multilocus phylogeny revealed three main Penicillium spp. in order of abundance: P. expansum, P. crustosum, and P. solitum. Interestingly, P. expansum split into two distinct clades with strong statistical support that coincided with several morphological observations. Findings from this study are significant and show previously undocumented diversity in blue mold fungi responsible for postharvest decay including the first finding of P. expansum, P. crustosum, and P. solitum as postharvest pathogens of quince and P. crustosum of medlar fruit in the world. Additionally, data will impact the design of species-specific detection tools, guide the development of blue mold management strategies, and provides timely information regarding phenotypic, morphological and genotypic plasticity in Penicillium expansum.