Epidemiological Features and Trends of Brown Spot of Pear Disease Based on the Diversity of Pathogen Populations and Climate Change Effects

Brown spot of pear, caused by the fungus Stemphylium vesicarium, is an emerging disease of economic importance in several pear-growing areas in Europe. In recent years, new control strategies combining sanitation practices and fungicide applications according to developed forecasting models have been introduced to manage the disease. However, the pathogenic and saprophytic behavior of this pathogen makes it difficult to manage the disease. In addition, climate change can also result in variations in the severity and geographical distribution of the disease. In this study, ecological and epidemiological aspects of brown spot of pear disease related to inoculum characterization and climate change impact were elucidated. The pathogenic variation in S. vesicarium populations from pear orchards and its relationship to inoculum sources (air samples, leaf debris, and infected host and nonhost tissues) was determined using multivariate analysis. In total, six variables related to infection and disease development on cultivar Conference pear detached leaves of 110 S. vesicarium isolates were analyzed. A high proportion of isolates (42%) were nonpathogenic to pear; 85% of these nonpathogenic isolates were recovered from air samples. Most isolates recovered from lesions (93%) and pseudothecia (83%) were pathogenic to pear. A group of pathogenic isolates rapidly infected cultivar Conference pear leaves resulted in disease increase that followed a monomolecular model, whereas some S. vesicarium isolates required a period of time after inoculation to initiate infection and resulted in disease increase that followed a logistic model. The latter group was mainly composed of isolates recovered from pseudothecia on leaf debris, whereas the former group was mainly composed of isolates recovered from lesions on pear fruit and leaves. The relationship between the source of inoculum and pathogenic/aggressiveness profile was confirmed by principal component analysis. The effect of climate change on disease risk was analyzed in two pear-growing areas of Spain under two scenarios (A2 and B1) and for three periods (2005 to 2009, 2041 to 2060, and 2081 to 2100). Simulations showed that the level of risk predicted by BSPcast model increased to high or very high under the two scenarios and was differentially distributed in the two regions. This study is an example of how epidemiological models can be used to predict not only the onset of infections but also how climate change could affect brown spot of pear ​
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