July 2022 - 12
PLANT & SOIL HEALTH
Powdery mildew detector gives strawberry
growers tool to fight disease
By Doug Ohlemeier
New tools developed by researchers at
the University of Florida (UF) will help
them - and ultimately the industry -
fight powdery mildew, one of the biggest
diseases berry growers battle.
Scientists at UF's Gulf Coast Research
and Education Center (GCREC) in Balm
say the new method to fight the disease
could help strawberry growers globally.
The technology marries genomic
data - all of an organism's DNA - with
phenomics, the study of plant growth,
performance and composition. Through
phenomics, scientists use DNA to
measure plant traits.
Researchers already possess a
wealth of technology that helps them
understand strawberry genes. Those
genes, however, need to be connected
to their actual effect on the plant, in
this case, how the plant resists powdery
mildew disease. That's why they
combined genomics and phenomics, said
Vance Whitaker, UF associate professor
of horticulture at the GCREC.
" The main benefit to growers and
the industry will be through breeding, "
Whitaker said. " This is more of the type
of technology breeders can use as a
tool to breed better. Ultimately, all the
knowledge we gain helps us to develop
some kind of tool or technology we
can use in breeding, whether a method
like that or to discover a gene behind a
resistance or some other trait.
" The impact to the industry will be
by hopefully giving breeders tools that
improve their breeding programs. All
that has a clear application for us. "
In a GCREC field trial, Whitaker
and his colleagues extracted DNA from
each strawberry and reviewed the fruit's
genes. The scientists rated the severity of
the disease via two methods: with their
eyes, a traditional method using a visual
scale, and using technology involving
a sensor. The handheld sensor detected
light wavelengths unseen by eyes. The
wavelengths provided researchers data
about the health and disease status of
The technology helps better detect
- and improve - powdery mildew
resistance in new cultivars,
KEEP YOUR HARVEST FRESH!
HARVEST WITH EASE!
Automatic Potato Harvester
Get potatoes up and out easier than ever!
* Walking Tractor or Cat.1 3pt. hitch
Adjustable-depth front end plowshare &
* Walking Tractor or Cat.1 3pt. hitch
* Small machine for small ground plots
* Adjustable depth plowshare & vibrating
Ronald Tapia, a University of Florida doctoral student in horticultural sciences, points a
sensor at a strawberry plant at the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Gulf
Coast Research and Education Center. IFAS Research developed a new tool to help fight
powdery mildew. Photo: Ronald Tapia, UF/IFAS
" We showed that by combining
the DNA information (genomics)
and the spectroscopy information
(phenomics), we can predict the visual
rating of disease resistance surprisingly
well, " he said.
In the future, researchers can
discontinue or lessen the laborious
KEEP IT FRESH!
Janny Natural Controlled-Atmosphere
Increase revenue and maintain freshness of fruits and
vegetables after harvest. Passive diffusion of O2 & CO2
within the JMT CA Bin 730 provides optimal atmosphere
conditions to store fresh fruits, vegetables, mushrooms,
cut fl owers, and more.
JMT CA Bin 730 nestable bin system
with patented JMT Lid 9 & solid
plastic containers. 732-liters,
950 lbs. load capacity,
external 48 " x 44 " x 30 "
practice of rating berries visually. The
cost of obtaining DNA points about the
berries' DNA structure costs much less
than manually seeking data points in
the field, saving researchers time and
money while providing more accurate
detection, Whitaker said.
" DNA sequencing in a lot of cases is
actually cheaper for us to do these days
than sending someone into the field to
measure something, " he said.
Over time, advances in technology
decrease the price, similar to how the
cost of computers have decreased even
7am - 5pm, Mon - Fri
Call for a catalog
8 Ashfi eld Road / Route 116
P.O. Box 540, Conway, MA 01341
12 | VegetableGrowersNews.com
or more information about
Janny Bins & Spedo Harvesters
as technology improved.
" It's an arrow like that in genome
sequencing, " Whitaker said. " Compared
to when I started 13 years ago, we can
do things you couldn't imagine doing
then and can perform them cheaper
than we could do even two years ago. "
Earlier studies showed the method
detects diseases in other crops, said
Whitaker, who is careful to warn that
the new method isn't guaranteed to
work in every situation.
Mexican production during Florida's
traditional marketing window has made
the U.S. strawberry deal more difficult.
Helping to lower costs of protecting
against diseases could benefit growers
in leveling the playing field.
" As they grow a high-cost crop in
an environment filled with risks, any
problem we can reduce and help them
better deal with, not only with trade,
but with climate, disease, rising costs
- all kinds of things - makes their
lives a little less complicated and more
successful, " Whitaker said.
" If we can produce a variety more
resistant to powdery mildew and have
them spend less controlling it, it's an
important benefit. Ultimately, the
varieties will be a little easier to grow
and perhaps present fewer risks
to them. "
Ronald Tapia, a GCREC horticultural
sciences doctoral student, led the
research under supervision of Whitaker
and Seonghee Lee, an assistant
professor. Whitaker commended
students' efforts to make research solve
real-life issues for growers. VGN
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of July 2022
July 2022 - 1
July 2022 - 2
July 2022 - 3
July 2022 - 4
July 2022 - 5
July 2022 - 6
July 2022 - 7
July 2022 - 8
July 2022 - 9
July 2022 - 10
July 2022 - 11
July 2022 - 12
July 2022 - 13
July 2022 - 14
July 2022 - 15
July 2022 - 16
July 2022 - 17
July 2022 - 18
July 2022 - 19
July 2022 - 20
July 2022 - 21
July 2022 - 22
July 2022 - 23
July 2022 - 24