UC Davis Research Aims to Tackle Fusarium Wilt in Strawberries

UC Davis Research Aims to Tackle Fusarium Wilt in Strawberries

Thanks to research at the University of California Davis, strawberry losses from Fusarium wilt could be greatly reduced. Researchers say they have discovered genes that are resistant to the deadly soil-borne disease.

In 2015 UC Davis researchers Steve Knapp and Glenn Cole started focusing on Fusarium wilt.

"That was a major focus of our breeding program, was to start going after identifying disease resistance, and then trying to develop tools to help breed more quickly the inclusion of disease resistance into cultivars [strawberry varieties] that are produced."

Cole says they found that a single chromosome provided disease resistance. They identified that chromosome and created a genetic tool to speed up the breeding for resistance to Fusarium. As a result, all the strawberry selections that come through their program are resistant.

Cole says growers will also need to divert from the practice of using the same ground year after year for their strawberry crops.

"It's become clearly become evident that the use of rotations and cover crops is going to be more important."

Knapp and Cole have informed the industry about current strawberry varieties that have the resistance so growers can select plants with that added protection.

Cole noted the new resistant varieties coming out later this year will be suitable for several growing seasons.

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