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Development of Peronospora parasitica epidemics on radish as modelled by the effects of water vapour saturation deficit and temperature

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Epidemics of Peronospora parasitica are strongly affected by temperature and air moisture, and the interaction of these factors. Because a significant percentage of radish plants are grown in greenhouses, it may be possible to influence epidemics by altering the greenhouse climate. The objective of this study was to test the hypothesis that epidemics of P. parasitica can be modelled by the effects of air temperature and moisture in the greenhouse. Such a model could then be used to analyse greenhouse climate control strategies with regard to managing downy mildew. Five radish crops were grown under greenhouse conditions with set-points for heating and ventilation intended to obtain favourable conditions for disease development during the first part of the growing cycle. Subsequent to this first phase, unfavourable conditions were set until harvest. Disease incidence was measured once a week until the radishes reached marketable size. In addition, experiments were carried out in growth chambers in which inoculated plants were subjected to air temperatures between 8 and 27°C, and disease incidence and sporulation intensity were measured. Data from these two experiments were then used to estimate model parameters. In this model, the interactions of air temperature (T) and water vapour saturation deficit (SD) were adequately described by a multiplicative relationship. The simulated epidemics by the fitted model were highly correlated with the observed epidemics (r = 0.91, R 2 = 0.83, n = 29). Parameter estimates indicated that T of ca. 20°C and SD < 0.03 hPa resulted in the highest rates of disease development and that the rate was zero when SD > 2.0 hPa. Both experimental data and simulations showed that epidemics of P. parasitica can be effectively controlled by managing the greenhouse climate.

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Financial support from the Ministries of Agriculture of the Federal Republic of Germany, the Brandenburg State and the Thüringen State is gratefully acknowledged.

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Correspondence to Andreas Kofoet.

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Kofoet, A., Fink, M. Development of Peronospora parasitica epidemics on radish as modelled by the effects of water vapour saturation deficit and temperature. Eur J Plant Pathol 117, 369–381 (2007).

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