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Root rot defense moves from data-gathering to management

Not long ago, the pea root rot causal agent Aphanomyces wasn't known in Alberta. A detailed three‐part agronomic defense package for growers is now in the works.
Before you can tackle a problem, you first need to understand its nature and dimensions.
When a causal agent of root rot in peas was identified for the first time in Alberta, it was clearly a significant issue. A just‐completed five‐year producer‐funded research survey has yielded critical information on the nature of Aphanomyces and its distribution in Alberta.
With this foundational information in place, Syama Chatterton is moving Alberta pea growers' Aphanomyces root rot defense to the next level.
“The surveys helped us to understand the problems we’re dealing with, how widespread it is and get to know our pathogens,” said Chatterton, Lethbridge‐based Plant Pathologist with Agriculture and Agri‐Food Canada. “Now we're moving onto the management aspects of this disease and getting into the nitty‐gritty of the research on how to manage the problem.”
In the spring of 2018, Chatterton and a team of researchers kicked off a major five‐year project examining three elements of a pea root rot management program.
1. Breeding. Currently, Alberta farmers don't have access to field pea varieties with genetic resistance to Aphanomyces or Fusarium root rot. One part of this project will source and screen germplasm offering resistance and test it under Alberta conditions.
2. Physiology. “We want to better understand what’s behind the genetics of resistance and how can we use these genetics as a further tool to help with breeding efforts,” Chatterton said.   
3. Agronomy. In other diseases, in other crops, researchers and growers have developed production techniques to mitigate disease pressure. Wide row spacing in dry beans, for example, improves air flow between plants and helps keep white mould at bay. This project will evaluate the effectiveness of agronomic strategies that can be used to avoid or minimize the impact of Aphanomyces root rot.
As the project lead, Chatterton is responsible for the design and management of this research effort. She's the first to tell you, none of it could happen without the expertise and hard work of a dedicated team.
“I can sit in my office and dream up all these research projects that we can do, but it’s really the technical staff and the team who carry out the work,” Chatterton said. “It’s unique and challenging because we do a combination of field work and lab‐based molecular work.”
Source : Alberta pulse