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Phytopathology. 2015 Jan;105(1):80-90. doi: 10.1094/PHYTO-02-14-0046-R.

Frequency of Verticillium Species in Commercial Spinach Fields and Transmission of V. dahliae from Spinach to Subsequent Lettuce Crops.


Verticillium wilt caused by V. dahliae is a devastating disease of lettuce in California (CA). The disease is currently restricted to a small geographic area in central coastal CA, even though cropping patterns in other coastal lettuce production regions in the state are similar. Infested spinach seed has been implicated in the introduction of V. dahliae into lettuce fields but direct evidence linking this inoculum to wilt epidemics in lettuce is lacking. In this study, 100 commercial spinach fields in four coastal CA counties were surveyed to evaluate the frequency of Verticillium species recovered from spinach seedlings and the area under spinach production in each county was assessed. Regardless of the county, V. isaacii was the most frequently isolated species from spinach followed by V. dahliae and, less frequently, V. klebahnii. The frequency of recovery of Verticillium species was unrelated to the occurrence of Verticillium wilt on lettuce in the four counties but was related to the area under spinach production in individual counties. The transmission of V. dahliae from infested spinach seeds to lettuce was investigated in microplots. Verticillium wilt developed on lettuce following two or three plantings of Verticillium-infested spinach, in independent experiments. The pathogen recovered from the infected lettuce from microplots was confirmed as V. dahliae by polymerase chain reaction assays. In a greenhouse study, transmission of a green fluorescence protein-tagged mutant strain of V. dahliae from spinach to lettuce roots was demonstrated, after two cycles of incorporation of infected spinach residue into the soil. This study presents conclusive evidence that V. dahliae introduced via spinach seed can cause Verticillium wilt in lettuce.

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