Integrated management of damping-off diseases. A review

  • Jay Ram Lamichhane
  • Carolyne Dürr
  • André A. Schwanck
  • Marie-Hélène Robin
  • Jean-Pierre Sarthou
  • Vincent Cellier
  • Antoine Messéan
  • Jean-Noël Aubertot
Review Article
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Pest control


Damping-off is a disease that leads to the decay of germinating seeds and young seedlings, which represents for farmers one of the most important yield constraints both in nurseries and fields. As for other biotic stresses, conventional fungicides are widely used to manage this disease, with two major consequences. On the one hand, fungicide overuse threatens the human health and causes ecological concerns. On the other hand, this practice has led to the emergence of pesticide-resistant microorganisms in the environment. Thus, there are increasing concerns to develop sustainable and durable damping-off management strategies that are less reliant on conventional pesticides. Achieving such a goal requires a better knowledge of pathogen biology and disease epidemiology in order to facilitate the decision-making process. It also demands using all available non-chemical tools that can be adapted to regional and specific production situations. However, this still is not the case and major knowledge gaps must be filled. Here, we review up to 300 articles of the damping-off literature in order to highlight major knowledge gaps and identify future research priorities. The major findings are (i) damping-off is an emerging disease worldwide, which affects all agricultural and forestry crops, both in nurseries and fields; (ii) over a dozen of soil-borne fungi and fungus-like organisms are a cause of damping-off but only a few of them are frequently associated with the disease; (iii) damping-off may affect from 5 to 80% of the seedlings, thereby inducing heavy economic consequences for farmers; (iv) a lot of research efforts have been made in recent years to develop biocontrol solutions for damping-off and there are interesting future perspectives; and (v) damping-off management requires an integrated pest management (IPM) approach combining both preventive and curative tactics and strategies. Given the complex nature of damping-off and the numerous factors involved in its occurrence, we recommend further research on critical niches of complexity, such as seeds, seedbed, associated microbes and their interfaces, using novel and robust experimental and modeling approaches based on five research priorities described in this paper.


Abiotic stresses Best management practices Economic losses Integrated pest management Interactions Seed germination Seedling decay Soil-borne pathogens 



We are grateful to Prof. Lindsey J. du Toit, Washington State University, USA, and Dr. Martin Chilvers, Michigan State University, USA, for providing high-quality photos of damping-off disease symptoms. We also thank the participants of the Rés0Pest IPM network (DEPHY EXPE ECOPHYTO), coordinated by the INRA/CIRAD, who provided the data shown in Fig. 6, and in particular Guillaume Audebert, Alain Berthier, Caroline Colnenne, Sébastien Darras, Violaine Deytieux, André Gavaland, Philippe Le Roy, and Antoine Savoie.


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Copyright information

© INRA and Springer-Verlag France 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jay Ram Lamichhane
    • 1
  • Carolyne Dürr
    • 2
  • André A. Schwanck
    • 3
  • Marie-Hélène Robin
    • 4
  • Jean-Pierre Sarthou
    • 5
  • Vincent Cellier
    • 6
  • Antoine Messéan
    • 1
  • Jean-Noël Aubertot
    • 3
  1. 1.INRA, Eco-Innov Research UnitThiverval-GrignonFrance
  2. 2.INRA, IRHS 1345BeaucouzéFrance
  3. 3.INRA, UMR AGIR 1248Castanet-TolosanFrance
  4. 4.Université de Toulouse, INPT, EI-Purpan, UMR AGIR 1248Castanet-TolosanFrance
  5. 5.Université de Toulouse, INPT, ENSAT, UMR AGIR 1248Castanet-TolosanFrance
  6. 6.INRA, Domaine expérimental d’Epoisses UE 0115BretenièreFrance

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