Effect of water stress on reproduction and colonization of podosphaera aphanis of strawberry
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionPlant Disease. 2020, 104 (11), 2973-2978. 10.1094/PDIS-10-19-2172-RE
In a number of pathosystems involving the powdery mildews (Erysiphales), plant stress is associated with decreased disease susceptibility and is detrimental to pathogen growth and reproduction. However, in strawberry, anecdotal observations associate severe powdery mildew (Podosphaera aphanis) with water stress. In a 2017 survey of 42 strawberry growers in Norway and California, 40 growers agreed with a statement that water-stressed strawberry plants were more susceptible to powdery mildew compared with nonstressed plants. In repeated in vitro and in vivo experiments, we found that water stress was consistently and significantly unfavorable to conidial germination, infection, and increases in disease severity. Deleterious effects on the pathogen were observed from both preinoculation and postinoculation water stress in the host. Soil moisture content in the range from 0 to 50% was correlated (R2 = 0.897) with germinability of conidia harvested from extant colonies that developed on plants growing at different levels of water stress. These studies confirm that P. aphanis fits the norm for biotrophic powdery mildews and hosts under stress. Mild water stress, compared with a state of optimal hydration, is likely to decrease rather than increase susceptibility of strawberry to P. aphanis. We believe it is possible that foliar symptoms of leaf curling due to diffuse and inconspicuous infection of the lower leaf surfaces by P. aphanis could easily be mistakenly attributed to water stress, which we observed as having a nearly identical leaf curling symptom in strawberry.