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Phytopathology. 2011 Apr;101(4):451-61. doi: 10.1094/PHYTO-09-10-0240.

Spatiotemporal spread of cucurbit downy mildew in the eastern United States.

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  • 1Department of Plant Pathology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA. peter.ojiambo@ncsu.edu


The dynamics of cucurbit downy mildew, caused by Pseudoperonospora cubensis, in the eastern United States in 2008 and 2009 were investigated based on disease records collected in 24 states as part of the Cucurbit downy mildew ipmPIPE monitoring program. The mean season-long rate of temporal disease progress across the 2 years was 1.4 new cases per day. Although cucurbit downy mildew was detected in mid-February and early March in southern Florida, the disease progressed slowly during the spring and early summer and did not enter its exponential phase until mid-June. The median nearest-neighbor distance of spread of new disease cases was ≈110 km in both years, with ≈15% of the distances being >240 km. Considering disease epidemics on all cucurbits, the epidemic expanded at a rate of 9.2 and 10.5 km per day in 2008 and 2009, respectively. These rates of spatial spread are at the lower range of those reported for the annual spread of tobacco blue mold in the southeastern United States, a disease that is also aerially dispersed over long distances. These results suggest that regional spread of cucurbit downy mildew may be limited by opportunities for establishment in the first half of the year, when fewer cucurbit hosts are available for infection. The O-ring statistic was used to determine the spatial pattern of cucurbit downy mildew outbreaks using complete spatial randomness as the null model for hypothesis testing. Disease outbreaks in both years were spatially aggregated and the extent of spatial dependence was up to 1,000 km. Results from the spatial analysis suggests that disease outbreaks in the Great Lakes and mid-Atlantic regions may be due to the spread of P. cubensis sporangia from outbreaks of the disease near the Georgia/South Carolina/North Carolina border rather than from overwintering sites in southern Florida. Space-time point pattern analysis indicated strong (P < 0.001) evidence for a space-time interaction and a space-time risk window of ≈3 to 5 months after first disease outbreak and 300 to 600 km was detected in both years. Results of this study support the hypothesis that infection of cucurbits by P. cubensis appears to be an outcome of a contagion process, and the relative large space-time window suggests that factors occurring on a large spatial scale (≈1,000 km) facilitate the spread of cucurbit downy mildew in the eastern United States.

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