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Fusarium wilt, basal rot and root rot diseases

Fusarium wilt, basal rot and root rot diseases of many important crop plants are caused by the soilborne fungus Fusarium oxysporum. F. oxysporum is actually a species complex comprising multiple formae speciales (f.spp.; special forms) each of which is uniquely adapted to an individual host plant species. These are particularly difficult to control as they produce long-lived chlamydospores which can survive in soil for many years. In addition, there are also non-pathogenic isolates of F. oxysporum, some of which have been exploited as biological control agents. A further challenge is that new races of F. oxysporum f.spp. can evolve to overcome plant resistance. This has recently occurred for F. oxysporum f.sp. lactucae affecting lettuce where a new race 4 has very recently emerged in Europe and is for the first time affecting lettuce growers in the UK.

Fusarium symptoms

Fusarium Research

Research has mainly focussed on Fusarium wilt of lettuce (F. oxysporum f.sp. lactucae), Fusarium basal rots of onion (F. oxysporum f.sp. cepae) and Narcissus (F. oxysporum f.sp. narcissi) and Fusarium wilt of column stocks (F. oxysporum f.sp. matthiolae). However, we are also working on Fusarium spp. involved in the foot rot complexes of peas, beans, leeks, rocket and aspsragus (F. oxysporum, F. solani, F. avenaceum, F. culmorum F. proliferatum). Areas include:

  • Molecular diagnostics, genome sequencing and identification of pathogenicity-related genes
  • Identification and characterisation of new sources of plant resistance in lettuce and onion
  • Fusarium biology and epidemiology
  • Fusarium disease control using conventional fungicides, biological control agents and other approaches

Research Projects
  • AHDB CP204: Development of molecular methods to determine the risk of Fusarium disease, select effective rotation crops and monitor F. oxysporum pathogens and associated microbial communities (2020-2023)
  • AHDB Sceptre+ SP25: Identifying treatments to reduce the establishment and development of Fusarium wilt of lettuce (2018 and 2021)
  • AHDB Sceptre+ SP45: Identifying treatments to reduce the establishment and development of Fusarium basal rot in Narcissus (2019-2020)
  • AHDB CP196: Developing disease prediction of onion basal rot using a quantitative molecular test (2019-2020)
  • AHDB FV PE 458: Lettuce: biology and management of Fusarium wilt caused by Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. lactucae race 4 (2018-2019)
  • AHDB FV PO BOF 452: Biology and control of Fusarium diseases across multiple crops: development of molecular tools to identify and quantify multiple Fusarium species (2017-2019)
  • BBSRC HAPI BB/K020870/1: Exploiting next generation sequencing technologies to understand pathogenicity and resistance in Fusarium oxysporum (2014-2017)
  • Defra: Vegetable Genetic Improvement Network
  • AHDB BOF74a: Evaluating potential new fungicides for the control of Narcissus basal rot in bulb and plant tests (2013-2014)
  • AHDB BOF 74: In vitro screening of fungicides with potential to control basal rot of narcissus caused by Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. narcissi (2011-212)

  • Taylor A, Teakle GR, Walley PG, Finch-Savage WE, Jackson AC, Jones JE, Hand P, Thomas B, Havey MJ, Pink DaC, Clarkson JP, 2019. Assembly and characterisation of a unique onion diversity set identifies resistance to Fusarium basal rot and improved seedling vigour. Theoretical and Applied Genetics 132, 3245-3264

  • Taylor A, Jackson AC, Clarkson JP, 2019. First Report of Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. lactucae Race 4 Causing Lettuce Wilt in England and Ireland. Plant Disease 103, 1033-1033.

  • Taylor A, Barnes A, Jackson AC, Clarkson JP, 2019. First Report of Fusarium oxysporum and Fusarium redolens Causing Wilting and Yellowing of Wild Rocket (Diplotaxis tenuifolia) in the United Kingdom. Plant Disease 103, 1428-1428.

  • Armitage AD, Taylor A, Sobczyk MK, Baxter L, Greenfield BPJ, Bates HJ, Wilson F, Jackson AC, Ott S, Harrison RJ, Clarkson JP, 2018. Characterisation of pathogen-specific regions and novel effector candidates in Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cepae. Scientific Reports 8, 13530.

  • Taylor A, Sims IL, Jackson AC, Clarkson J, 2017. First report of Fusarium oxysporum causing a vascular wilt of statice (Limonium sinuatum) in the UK. Plant Disease 101, 1040.

  • Taylor A, Vágány V, Jackson AC, Harrison RJ, Rainoni A, Clarkson JP (2016) Identification of pathogenicity-related genes in Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cepae. Molecular Plant Pathology 17, 1032–1047.

  • Taylor A, Vagany V, Barbara DJ, Thomas B, Pink DaC, Jones JE, Clarkson JP (2013) Identification of differential resistance to six Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cepae isolates in commercial onion cultivars through the development of a rapid seedling assay. Plant Pathology 62, 103-111.

Further information

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