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Foot Rot Testing Service

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Footrot diseases of peas can have major impacts on yields. Infected plants are yellow in colour, may be stunted and plants often die before pods reach their full potential These symptoms are caused by infection of plant roots by soil-borne pathogens. In the UK, the pathogens Fusarium spp. and Phoma medicaginis have traditionally caused footrots in peas but more recently another very destructive pathogen, Aphanomyces euteiches, has been adding to the footrot complex.
 
Disease severity is dependent on soil structure because compaction and water logging increase potential for infection as well as weather. Wet conditions favour disease development and the most important factor is pathogen levels in soils.

All three pathogens produce thick-walled spores that can survive in soils for several years. These spores germinate when pea plants are present leading to infection and potential death of the plants.

A footrot index developed in the 1990s showed that for every point increase on the index scale for Fusarium spp. and Phoma medicaginis there is a 0.85 t/ha yield penalty. This indicates the importance of monitoring soil pathogen levels.
 
PGRO continues to offer an established plate tests to measure levels of Fusarium spp. and Phoma medicaginis in soils.
In 2017 a new plate test was launched which determines levels of Aphanomyces euteiches in soils and this test is now available to growers.
 
Infected roots are soft and honey coloured and cannot support plant health.
 
The results obtained in these tests tell growers the risk level of footrot infection when environmental conditions are favourable.
 
The molecular biology lab at PGRO has been equipped to develop molecular identification tools for all three organisms of the footrot complex and to quantify their levels in soils. Molecular methods are often more rapid with a higher throughput of samples than conventional methods. This will allow us to deliver results of soil infections with Fusarium spp., Phoma medicaginis and Aphanomyces euteiches in less than a week in comparison to the current three weeks. The new facilities will not only be used for rapid disease diagnostics, but also to quantify sizes of microbial communities in soil, to screen for resistance traits, or to measure effects of environmental changes on plant performance.
 
For more information about the footrot complex or the testing services available at PGRO please contact us

 

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