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Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences

Research into bitter rot disease helps explain source of pathogen

A two-year study conducted by researchers in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences has led to a new way of looking at the fungal pathogen Colletotrichum fioriniae as a leaf endophyte -bacterial or fungal microorganisms that colonize healthy plant tissue.

According to Phillip Martin, a doctoral candidate in plant pathology, the findings, which were published recently in the journal Phytopathology, have important implications for the management of the pathogen in fruit trees.

Colletotrichum fioriniae causes diseases, often called anthracnoses, in more than 100 fruit and vegetable plants, including apple, peach, pear and strawberry. The fungus infects the fruit under warm and wet conditions and causes brown, sunken lesions; occasionally, orange spores will be seen on the surface.

The disease is of concern to the Pennsylvania apple industry, which produces 400 million to 500 million pounds of apples per year. The state ranks fourth in the nation for apple production, per statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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