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Long-term survival of blast pathogen in infected rice residues as major source of primary inoculum in high altitude upland ecology

Raveloson H., Ratsimiala Ramonta I., Tharreau D., Sester M.. 2018. Plant Pathology, 67 : p. 610-618.

DOI: 10.1111/ppa.12790

Magnaporthe oryzae is the fungal plant pathogen that causes rice blast. The sources of primary inoculum and overwintering mode of the fungus remain largely unknown. The effect of rice residues on the onset of blast epidemics and the potential for survival of M. oryzae in the residues were studied in upland conditions in Madagascar. Blast disease was observed in a 3-year field experiment in three treatments: with either infected or uninfected rice residues on the soil surface, or without rice residues. Leaf blast incidence was significantly higher in the treatment with infected rice residues than in the two other treatments at the early stages of the epidemic. In a second set of trials, the survival of M. oryzae on rice residues was monitored. Infected rice stems were placed by lots in three places: on the mulch of rice residues, under the mulch, and buried at a depth of 10 cm in the soil. Each month, samples were taken from the field and tested for sporulation. The survival of the blast fungus decreased rapidly on the stems buried in the soil but remained high for the other conditions. Sporulation of the fungus was observed on stems left on the mulch for up to 18 months. It is concluded that under field conditions, the presence of infected rice residues could initiate an epidemic of blast. The results of this study may help in designing effective management strategies for rice residues infected by M. oryzae.

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