Silicon Transporters and Effects of Silicon Amendments in Strawberry under High Tunnel and Field Conditions
Powdery mildew of strawberry is caused by the obligate pathogenic fungus Sphaerotheca macularis f. sp. fragariae. The disease affects the leaves, flowers and fruit of this crop. This study examined the effects of different environmental factors on disease cycle components (germination, conidiation and survival) in strawberry to determine which conditions limit the progress of the disease. The optimal environmental conditions for conidial germination and conidial germ tube length ranged between 15 and 25 °C with relative humidity (RH) higher than 75%, but less than 98%. High light intensity reduced germination and hyphal growth. The viability of conidia on infected leaves was examined at temperatures ranging from 15 to 35 °C at 80–85% RH. Conidia survival declined over time, but a certain percentage of conidia remained active after 5 months incubation. The rate of conidial germination was significantly higher on young leaves than on older leaves. This observation was consistent across all four tested cultivars. Conidiation at 70–75% RH was similar to that at 80–85%, but greater than that at ≥95% RH. The shortest time from inoculation to appearance of the first disease symptoms was 4 days, at 20 and 30 °C with RH above 75%. In growth chambers, temperatures of 10 and 30 °C, RH above 95%, radiation of 7000 lux and the use of a more tolerant cultivar were all detrimental to disease development. In general, the environmental conditions required for germination and dispersal of powdery mildew are conducive to disease progress under strawberry production conditions in Israel. Furthermore, viability and survival of the pathogen during and between seasons appears to be dependent on asexual inoculum production.