Epidemiology and biocontrol of strawberry rot complex

Fungi spoilage of strawberry and raspberry fruit can occur in several stages. About 20-40% fruit are usually discarded in the whole production chain due to fungal spoilage. The exact amount of fruit loss due to fungal spoilage varies considerably among years and crops, largely depending on weather conditions. Wet (or high humidity) conditions during flowering and fruit ripening usually favour fungal development. Inherent resistance to fruit rotting on soft fruit has not been clearly demonstrated although cultivar canopy structure may affect fungal development through its influence on microclimate.

Research on fungal rotting of strawberry so far has almost exclusively been targeted at Botrytis cinerea. Its epidemiology and management are well known on a range of horticulture crops. On strawberry, most post-harvest spoilage by B. cinerea originates from the infection during flowering and early fruiting periods although infection of ripening fruit could also be severe especially for outdoor crops during wet periods. In recent years, Mucor spp., Cladosporium spp. and Rhizopus spp., however, have gradually assumed greater importance as fungal agents of strawberry rot. However, the exact identity of the species that caused fungal rot in each genus is not yet known. Different fungi may respond differently to control measures. There is an urgent need, therefore, to develop strategies to control this fungal rot complex on strawberry.

The overall objective is to understand the epidemiology of strawberry rot caused by Mucor spp. and Rhizopus spp., and to develop measures/strategies to reduce the amount of losses due to these fungi

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