Control of Fusarium internal fruit rot in bell pepper

  • Heungens, Kurt (ProjectSupervisor)
  • Maes, Martine (Former Project Manager)

    Project Details


    Main research question/goal
    The main objective of this project is to develop a sustainable control plan for the fungi that cause internal rot in bell pepper. Internal fruit rot can be caused by three Fusarium species. The control plan has to fit into the standard growing practice of bell pepper and must include measures aimed at prevention of initial infections and measures that reduce the number of latent infections. We wish to increase our knowledge regarding the survival of the fungus, the primary sources of inoculum, the infection curve, and the effects of inoculum pressure, fruit load, position of the fruit, and stress. We also evaluate the efficacy of different control strategies such as early removal of colonized flower parts, lowering the inoculum pressure, lowering plant stress, screening for and use of cultivars with disease resistance, and applying agents that could induce host resistance or act directly in biocontrol.

    Research approach
    ILVO conducts this research in collaboration with three Belgian scientific partners (PCH, PSKW and KHK). We first develop the needed techniques: an artificial inoculation technique, determination of the infection curve, and a real-time PCR-based technique for quantification of the airload of spores of the three Fusarium species that cause internal fruit rot. Next, we determine if the percentage of internal fruit rot is related to spore pressure, fruit load, fruit position, crop manipulation practices, plant stress, and cultivar. For each factor correlated with fruit rot we develop and test measures that could lower this percentage.

    Internal fruit rot in bell pepper was first observed in Flanders (northern Belgium) in 2003-2004. All bell pepper nurseries in Flanders are affected, albeit to varying degrees. The average percentage of symptomatic fruit (after storage tests) is about 5% annually, but this percentage can vary greatly during the season, with peaks at some nurseries of 20%. In some years the damage is substantial; however, control options are currently limited and are not always supported by scientific testing. The results of our research project are communicated to growers, auctions, breeders and crop consultants via popularizing articles and presentations. Research articles are also submitted for publication in scientific journals.

    External partner(s)
    KHK - Katholieke Hogeschool Kempen
    PCG - Provinciaal Proefcentrum voor de Groenteteelt Oost-Vlaanderen vzw
    PCH - Proefcentrum Hoogstraten
    Effective start/end date1/11/1031/10/14