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  Eur.J.Hortic.Sci. 84 (1) 3-13 | DOI: 10.17660/eJHS.2019/84.1.1
ISSN 1611-4426 print and 1611-4434 online | © ISHS 2019 | European Journal of Horticultural Science | Original article

A new approach for strawberry disease control

F. Takeda1, W.J. Janisiewicz1, B.J. Smith2 and B. Nichols1
1USDA Agricultural Research Service, Appalachian Fruit Research Station, 2217 Wiltshire Road, Kearneysville, WV 25430, USA
2USDA Agricultural Research Service, Thad Cochran Southern Horticultural Laboratory, 810 Highway 26, Poplarville, MS 39470, USA

Ultraviolet-C (UV-C) irradiation has been used on small scale to kill microorganisms in agriculture and for control of foodborne pathogens in food industries. However, the doses of UV-C (254 nm) irradiation required to reduce diseases on strawberry and other plants have caused phytotoxicity. Here we report a new approach demonstrating greater killing power of UV-C irradiation against fungal pathogens without damaging strawberry plants when UV-C treatment was followed by a specific dark period. Field trials also included applications of microbial antagonists twice a week. The dark period most likely prevented activation of the light-induced DNA repair mechanism in microorganisms and greatly increased the lethality of the UV-C. This approach allowed for a substantial reduction of the UV-C effective dose to kill the microorganisms on leaves, flowers and fruit, without damaging the strawberry plant. The application of microbial antagonists resulted in excellent colonization of strawberry plants which filled the microbial void after UV-C “sterilization” and provided a barrier for recolonization by plant and potential foodborne pathogens.

Keywords anthracnose, Aureobasidium, biological control, Botrytis, Colletotrichum, Fragaria × ananassa, fruit rot, gray mold, Metschnikowia, powdery mildew, ultraviolet-C

Significance of this study

What is already known on this subject?

  • Ultraviolet-B (UV-B) and ultraviolet-C (UV-C) irradiation treatments of strawberries were reported to reduce disease incidence, but often damaged plants at the doses required to kill or reduce pathogens.
What are the new findings?
  • Non-chemical control of several fungal pathogens of strawberry was developed. UV-C irradiation followed by a dark period allowed controlled strawberry diseases and applications of microbial antagonists reduced recolonization of strawberry leaves and fruit by fungal pathogens.
What is the expected impact on horticulture?
  • The research has implications for non-chemical disease management strategies (e.g., night-time UV-C irradiation and application of microbial antagonists) and circumventing development of fungicide resistance by pathogens.

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Received: 5 December 2017 | Accepted: 20 April 2018 | Published: 14 February 2019 | Available online: 14 February 2019

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