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Macrophomina phaseolina in strawberry production.

Juan Bascón Fernández

Laboratorio de Producción y Sanidad Vegetal de Huelva. Consejería de Agricultura, Pesca y Desarrollo Rural. Junta de Andalucia.

The phasing out of methyl bromide, and/or changes in methods of applying the soil disinfestants authorised for strawberry production, have resulted in the detection of new diseases in this crop, such as charcoal rot caused by the fungus Macrophomina phaseolina, as well as the exacerbation of other diseases. M. phaseolina affects the neck and roots of strawberry plants, although it has not been observed to affect the fruit. The initial symptoms of the disease are non-specific: there is general wilting, the leaves dry and the plant may eventually die. A cross section of the crown of affected plants shows necrosis in the vascular tissue. M. phaseolina is a saprophytic fungus that affects over 300 species, which gives it a high capacity to survive in soil. Environmental conditions heavily influence its attacking capacity, in particular high temperatures and especially water stress. This fungus survives in the soil in the form of sclerotia that can be viable for over three years in the soil. With regard to control, one possible solution would be to use fumigants authorised for strawberry production. The primary cultivation measure is to ensure that the crop has the right water balance. Given the saprophytic and polyphagous nature of this disease, it seems unlikely that varietal resistance could be achieved.

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