CUCURBIT DISEASE MANAGEMENT WITH REDUCED CHLOROTHALONIL AND IMPROVED UNDERSTANDING OF PSEUDOPERONOSPORA CUBENSIS POPULATION DYNAMICS
Jones, Jake Gardner
Everts, Kathryne L
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Research has linked chlorothalonil exposure to declines in pollinator health due to an increased likelihood of Nosema ceranae infection, altered gut microbial community, and a reduction in colony fitness and survival of honey bees (Apis mellifera). Therefore, a reduction in use of chlorothalonil, a large component of cucurbit disease management, may be needed. Without chlorothalonil, a widely used, broad-spectrum fungicide, the fungal and oomycete pathogens in cucurbit cropping systems can more quickly evolve resistance to targeted fungicides due to a limited number of efficacious modes of action and frequent sprays. Pseudoperonospora cubensis, the causal agent of cucurbit downy mildew, for example, has a short life cycle, experiences repeated applications of fungicides, and has a wide host range making it a high risk for fungicide resistance development. Our research focused on the development of an alternative fungicide spray program in melons to reduce the use of chlorothalonil, identifying the fungicide insensitivities of local P. cubensis populations and determining the efficacy of fungicides used to manage cucurbit downy mildew, and investigating the clade-host relationship and formation of oospores in regional P. cubensis samples. Efficacy on two important diseases in melon, powdery mildew and gummy stem blight, can be largely maintained without chlorothalonil but anthracnose control was not adequate without the inclusion of chlorothalonil. Currently, there are a number of highly effective targeted fungicides available to growers for management of cucurbit downy mildew including oxathiapiprolin, zoxamide + chlorothalonil, chlorothalonil, and cyazofamid. Our research shows evidence of P. cubensis clade-host associations, with clade 1 preferentially infecting acorn and summer squash (Cucurbita pepo), butternut squash (Cucurbita moschata), and watermelon (Citrullus lanatus), while clade 2 preferentially infects cucumber (Cucumis sativus). Melons (Cucumis melo) and pumpkin (Cucurbita maxima) are hosts to both clade 1 and clade 2 P. cubensis. Using these findings, producers can choose the fungicide that most appropriately targets the more virulent clade 2 or less virulent clade 1 infections.