Sat, 31 October 2020

Latest Projects

Improved management of bacterial diseases of horticultural crops

2019 - 2022

There are more than 100 known bacterial plant pathogens that affect or could potentially affect UK crops. Despite much previous research, diseases caused by bacterial pathogens continue to cause economic losses to growers, particularly in field vegetables, hardy nursery stock and protected ornamentals. The options for control with plant protection products have always been limited, and it is likely that this will continue. For the majority of bacterial plant diseases the primary source of infection is likely to be the seed or propagation material. The use of clean starting material provides the best prospects long-term sustainable control of bacterial pathogens in horticultural crops, exclusion of the pathogen through the use of clean starting material avoids the need for secondary interventions with e.g. Plant Protection Products etc. This is a collaborative project between PHS, STC, WCC and growers and will primarily focus on developing best practice for the deployment of such a strategy. For a number of high priority model bacterial pathogens the prevalence of the pathogen in starting material will be determined, the benefits of clean starting material will be demonstrated, and epidemiological data obtained to set health standards for starting material. We will also examine the feasibility of novel methods to produce high-health planting material as a second-line defence, and examine the potential for resistance deployment where we think this may be feasible.

Funded by: AHDB - Horticulture

Review of bacterial pathogens of economic importance to UK crops

2017 - 2017

The project will aim to provide an objective and realistic review of the current and potential future PRACTICAL control options for bacterial diseases available to UK growers, that can be used to inform decisions about the future directions for research and development and knowledge exchange.

Funded by: AHDB - Horticulture

Carrots: Evaluation of field storage alternatives

2015 - 2017

Most UK carrots for winter/spring use are stored in situ in the field, covered with a thick layer of straw insulation. The sustainability of this system is becoming increasing challenged, so the AHDB have commission Plant Health Solutions in collaboration with Vegetable Consultancy Services to investigate potential alternatives that were identified in a previous desk study.

Funded by: AHDB - Horticulture

Onion neck rot: seed infection, pathogens and treatments

2015 - 2015

HDC is funding Plant Health Solutions to investigate seed-borne neck rot in onions. Neck rot can cause significant losses in stored onions. It is caused by three species of Botrytis: B. aclada, B. allii, B. bysoidea. B. bysoidea is thought to be less important; B. allii and aclada were previously lumped together as one species (B. allii). The disease is seed-borne but symptoms are not apparent in the field and only develop in store. It is likely that most seed is tested by seed companies, and is treated with fungicides. Nevertheless major losses still occur in some years. The absence of field symptoms means the link between seed-borne infection and storage losses is obscure; it is further affected by weather conditions and inoculum load, therefore there remains some controversy about the importance of seed infection. This project will provide an independent assessment of the prevalence and incidence of the disease in commercially available onion seed in the UK. We will also provide some insight into the relative importance of the two main species that cause it, both in seed in store, and examine the ability of seed treatment fungicides to control the disease. Finally we will also begin studies to determine if it matters which pathogen(s) is/are present on seed.

Funded by: AHDB - Horticulture

Relationship between disease incidence in stored bulb onions and first year sets

2011 - 2012

There is a perception that the risk of certain onion diseases may be increased when crops are grown from sets. The major diseases of concern to the industry are: bacterial rots thought to be caused mainly by Burkholderia gladioli pv. alliicola (Bga; particularly in heat-treated red Rijnsburger type onions), neck rot caused primarily by Botrytis aclada/allii and Fusarium basal rot caused by Fusarium oxysporum fsp. cepae. One possibility is that the necessary heat treatment of some cultivars may lead to increased risk of disease. This project represents a first step to address these issues by determining the incidence of the major bacterial and fungal onion pathogens thought to be associated with sets of different types and establish if there is a relationship between disease incidence in sets and subsequent problems in the harvested bulb onion crop. It is anticipated that, based on these initial results, a follow-on project will investigate way of reducing the impact of any disease problems associated with sets.

Funded by: AHDB - Horticulture

Development of Novel Biological Seed Treatment Technologies

2010 - 2014

This project will develop novel seed treatment technologies to deliver biological control agents (BCAs) for the control of seed-borne diseases of vegetables. The project will primarily target two important diseases (onion neck rot, parsnip canker) which have a high impact on crop production in the UK and where growers are faced with recent withdrawal or absence of fungicidal seed treatments for the pathogens. The project therefore addresses an urgent requirement for alternative seed treatments which directly aligns with the overall TSB initiative to address the potential loss of pesticides as a result of changes to EC directive 91/414. The current seed processing techniques used for the target crops present several opportunities for interventions, enhancements and treatment applications. We will aim to exploit these opportunities to apply BCAs and develop novel formulations to enhance/maximise their activities. Successful BCA seed treatments will have a lower environmental impact compared with chemical fungicides while increasing productivity and farm income through reduction in waste caused by the rejection of diseased crops, and reducing the need for imports. It is envisaged that there will be economic benefits not only for the UK growers but also for other stakeholders such as seed production and BCA manufacturers, and the UK economy as a whole.

Funded by: Technology Strategy Board

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