With more than 62,000 hectares dedicated to cultivation, asparagus is one of the outdoor horticultural species with the largest cultivated area in the EU. Alas, the crop is threatened by the “decay syndrome”, which constitutes one of the main phytosanitary problems of this crop worldwide and which can even lead to the death of the affected plants.
Researchers from the Polytechnic University of Madrid, together with researchers from the Andalusian Institute for Agricultural and Fisheries Research and Training, set out to look for clues. After analyzing farm fields in three producing provinces in Spain, the researchers have identified seven different specific complexes of the Fusarium fungus and modeled the severity of the disease. They also managed to determine the importance of climatic factors in its expression.
The work, carried out under the direction of Professor Daniel Palmero, has made it possible to know the microbiota associated with plants affected by the decay syndrome in northern and central Spain. In this way, 13 species of the genus Fusarium have been identified.
After determining the pathogenicity of the different species, the three most prevalent species have been identified (Fusarium oxysporum, Fusarium redolens and Fusarium proliferatum), which play a predominant role in the development of the disease in these plants.
The results of the study have made it possible to establish a relationship between the severity of the disease and factors such as temperature, planting date or the density of fungal inoculum (microorganisms capable of causing infection) in the soil. Palmero told explica.co: “This information will be vital to address the effective control of the disease.”