Factors impacting blackleg development caused by Dickeya spp. in the field.
Stem rot symptoms caused by pectinolytic bacteria of Genus Pectobacterium and Genus Dickeya, which are commonly referred to as blackleg, strongly impact the quality of seed potato production in most European countries. Several biotic and abiotic factors, such as cultivar susceptibility, isolate aggressiveness, mother tuber infection density and a wide range of soil-related and climatic factors have been identified in the literature as having an effect on blackleg development. The aim of this study was to identify which biotic and/or abiotic factors are most critical to the development of blackleg in the field. In Switzerland, the predominant species have belonged to Genus Dickeya as far back as 1992, which is why this study only investigates blackleg symptoms induced by Dickeya isolates. Seven field trials, in which inoculated tubers were planted, were conducted during a 3-year period and the number of blackleg-diseased plants was counted. Multiple regression analysis was used in order to determine the factors that had the greatest impact on two different variables: (i) periods between emergence of the plant and disease outbreak and (ii) overall blackleg incidence throughout the growing season. The results of this analysis have revealed that environmental factors, such as evapotranspiration and soil moisture, explain about half of the variability in the number of days before disease outbreak, and the total number of diseased plants is widely dependent upon cultivar susceptibility and isolate aggressiveness.