Science Into Practice - Controlling black stem rot

Black stem rot (Mycosphaerella melonis) is an economically damaging disease of cucumbers causing extensive leaf and stem infections that can kill plants. Airborne infection of flowers and developing fruit can lead to fruit rot. Effective control of the disease in intensive production systems is difficult.

This work was commissioned to learn more about the disease and discover some control solutions. Stockbridge Technology Centre's Martin McPherson, the University of Worcester's Roy Kennedy and ADAS's Tim O'Neill are currently working together to achieve these aims via a range of activities.

Work to date has found no evidence to suggest that current seed stocks act as a primary infection source. A number of novel fungicides have shown good activity against Mycosphaerella, while the disinfectants Jet 5 and Unifect G were very effective on various contaminated surfaces.

In order to develop an early detection system for airborne spores, an antiserum specific to M. melonis has been developed. Further work is required to improve sensitivity but, once achieved, the immunoassay will be validated and an integrated disease-control strategy will be developed utilising the knowledge generated.

Dates for your diary

28 November - HDC/BHTA Exploratory Day, Novel Pest & Disease Control Methods In Herbs, Lancaster University.

17 January 2013 - Tomato Pest & Disease Day, Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire.

Horticultural Development Company

For details on all HDC activity, visit

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