Publications

Latent postharvest pathogens of pome fruit and their management: from single measures to a systems intervention approach

Wenneker, Marcel; Thomma, Bart P.H.J.

Summary

Postharvest diseases of pome fruit are typically caused by a wide diversity of fungal pathogens, and the list of confirmed causal agents is still growing. There is considerable knowledge on the epidemiology of wound pathogens, such as Botrytis cinerea and Penicillium expansum. In contrast, knowledge on the occurrence of the different postharvest diseases caused after latent (quiescent) infections during long-term storage and their epidemiology is limited. Well-known pathogens causing postharvest losses after latent infections are Neofabraea spp. and Colletotrichum spp., but in many cases the causal agents that occur in a specific region remain unknown and their control relies on the routine use of fungicide applications. However, due to the growing concern over the use of synthetic fungicides, alternative control measures are highly desired. Over the past years the use of physical treatments, natural compounds, and biocontrol agents have been investigated as alternatives. However, no single method has emerged that can robustly and reliably control postharvest diseases of pome fruit in practice. In this review it is argued to approach latent postharvest diseases as complex problems that require multiple interventions at different stages of the disease process in a systems intervention approach for their control. Such approach requires a deep understanding of the epidemiology of the causal agents in the orchard, fruit defence mechanisms against pathogens, and the molecular biology of host-pathogen interactions in order to develop novel disease control methods in which the deployment of resistant cultivars can be a cornerstone.