Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Agriculture - Plant Protection Science


Horticulture and Crop Science


College of Agriculture, Food, and Environmental Sciences


Gerald J. Holmes

Advisor Department

Horticulture and Crop Science

Advisor College

College of Agriculture, Food, and Environmental Sciences


Strawberries are considered an important crop in California where in 2018 it was in the top 5 valued fruit and vegetable commodities valued at $2.84 billion accounting for 88% of the total U.S. production. Strawberry production can be severely impacted by soilborne pathogens that can affect strawberry roots, crowns and leaves which can result in plant mortality. As much as 50 to 60% mortality can occur in one field. Pathogens responsible for such losses include Colletotrichum acutatum (syn.C. nymphaeae), Macrophomina phaseolina and Verticillium dahliae. With the phaseout of methyl bromide, host resistance and an understanding of host-pathogen interactions can play an important role in control of these diseases.

A two-year study was conducted in order to evaluate host resistance of anthracnose in 105 cultivars and elite breeding lines developed by six strawberry breeding programs. Cultivars and elite breeding lines were inoculated using three local isolates in both years. All breeding programs provided genotypes that had a wide range of anthracnose susceptibility ranging from 0 to 100% mortality during both years. In both years an average of 78% of all the plant mortality occurred by 1 January. From the 105 cultivars and elite breeding lines, 30 cultivars were common to both years. Of these 30 cultivars, nine of them differed in their disease susceptibility between experiments by more than 20%. This suggests that several years of field evaluation may be necessary to determine susceptibility to anthracnose. Popular cultivars that represent the spectrum of susceptibility are Monterey (susceptible), Festival (moderately resistant), and Sensation (resistant).

A second study was conducted toevaluate pathogen colonization of resistant and susceptible strawberry cultivars, testing interactions among crown and root plant tissue and two sampling timings. These cultivars were challenged with two soilborne pathogens, Macrophomina phaseolinaand Verticillium dahliae,over two years. Existing qPCR protocols for M. phaseolina and V. dahliae were used in order to quantify how much pathogen DNA was detected in crown and root samples. For the 2016-2017 V. dahliae trial there were significant effects for cultivar. Cultivar Benicia had significantly higher pathogen DNA compared to resistant cultivars Marquis, UC-12 and Camino Real. Susceptible cultivar BG 1975 had significantly less pathogen DNA compared to resistant cultivars San Andreas and Petaluma. In the 2017-2018 V. dahliaetrial pathogen DNA amount was not significantly different based on cultivar, plant part colonization, or the sampling period. In the 2017-2018 M. phaseolina trial all three of the fixed factors, cultivars, plant part colonization and sampling period were statistically significant. Cultivar ‘Sweet Ann’ had a significantly higher level of M. phaseolinaDNA in the early vs. the late sampling.