Reduction of Botrytis cinerea sporulation in sweet basil by altering the concentrations of nitrogen and calcium in the irrigation solution

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Abstract

Current measures for suppressing grey mould (Botrytis cinerea) on sweet basil rely on fungicide applications and climate control. In this study, the nitrogen and calcium concentrations in the standard irrigation solution (7·2 and 1·3 mM, respectively) were varied in a series of experiments conducted in pots and large containers. Treatments differed in the N or Ca concentrations supplied, and effects on host response were determined in detached stem segments, individual plants and plots. Effects of the two elements on grey mould incidence, lesion size and rate of disease progression were erratic and rarely significant, but decreasing the concentration of N and increasing the concentration of Ca in the irrigation solution decreased sporulation of B. cinerea. In some cases, however, altering the standard irrigation solution resulted in significantly lower yields. Analyses of mineral contents in the shoots suggested that yields were not impaired when N content in the shoots was not reduced below 2·9% and Ca content was not raised above 1·3%. These findings were used to compose a modified irrigation solution containing half of the N (3·6 mM) and double of the Ca (2·55 mM) concentrations in the standard irrigation solution. The modified irrigation solution significantly reduced sporulation of B. cinerea without affecting crop yield.

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