Downy Mildew on Spinach and Related Plants (March 2, 2016)
Spinach is a member of the plant family Chenopodiaceae, which also contains the
crop plants beets and Swiss chard as well as weeds such as nettleleaf goosefoot
and lambsquarters. Downy mildew can develop on all of these plants. Peronospora
farinosa, the oomycete pathogen that causes the disease on this group of plants,
exists as different races or subtypes. A spinach grower may wonder if isolates of
the pathogen that cause downy mildew on beets, Swiss chard, or weed hosts cause
downy mildew on spinach. Monterey County, California Farm Advisor Steve Koike and
colleagues conducted research to answer this question. Isolates of the pathogen
from nettleleaf goosefoot, lambsquarters, beet and Swiss chard were each used to
inoculate spinach. The result: no disease development. In a separate experiment,
the downy mildew pathogen from spinach was used to inoculate nettleleaf goosefoot
and lambsquarters. The result again was no disease development. The bottom line
is that spinach growers need not worry about related Chenopodiaceae such as nettleleaf
goosefoot, lambsquarters, beets or Swiss chard as potential sources of inoculum
for their spinach crop. Even though the bluish-purple evidence of the pathogen on
the underside of leaves is similar in appearance on all of these plants, the particular
isolates of the downy mildew pathogen have very specific and limited host ranges.
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For questions or comments on any of the topics please contact Marco Pena at the Yuma Agricultural Center.
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