Modelling greenhouse climate factors to constrain internal fruit rot (Fusarium spp.) in bell pepper
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Internal fruit rot in bell pepper is an important fungal disease which results in mycelium growth and/or necrosis on the ovarium and fruit flesh. It is mainly caused by members of the Fusarium lactis species complex and emerged as a major threat for bell pepper production worldwide. Infection already starts during anthesis, but the symptoms are only visible later on in the production chain. An accurate prediction of the disease incidence in the greenhouse based on environmental parameters is an important step towards a sustainable disease control. Based on a large dataset (2011–2016), a binomial, logistic regression model was developed. This model enables an accurate prediction of internal fruit rot occurrence based on simple and robust input parameters such as temperature and relative humidity during anthesis. Spore density was included as a simplified, practical parameter describing the presence or absence of internal fruit rot 1 week earlier. The obtained model was validated with an independent dataset of five different commercial bell pepper greenhouses. The chance of internal fruit rot infection increased with temperature and relative humidity. Once a greenhouse is infected, only lower temperatures can reduce future risks. However, the chance of the disease to occur remains very high. This prediction model offers a strong instrument for growers to optimize greenhouse climate conditions to restrain internal fruit rot incidence. In addition, the model can be used to apply accurate biological or chemical treatments to achieve a more sustainable greenhouse control. A guideline table for climate adjustment is presented.
KeywordsFusarium lactis species complex Internal fruit rot Capsicum annuum Predictive model
The Institute for the Promotion of Innovation through Science and Technology in Flanders (IWT) financed this study. The research project LA-135088 was granted to KU Leuven (R. Aerts, J. Ceusters and M. Frans) in cooperation with Research Center Hoogstraten, Research Station for Vegetable Production and the Institute for Agricultural and Fisheries Research.
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Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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