Integrated use of yeast, hot water and potassium silicate treatments for the control of postharvest green mould of citrus and litchi.
Abraham, Abraha Okbasillasie.
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There is a growing recognition globally that many agrochemicals are hazardous to humans, animals and the environment. Therefore, there is a need to substitute these chemical products with biological and physical treatments, and to change agronomic practices in order to control pests and diseases in agriculture. The primary objective of this thesis was to develop and test in laboratory, field and commercial packhouses trials as alternative control measures against green mould of citrus (caused by Penicillium digitatum Pers: Fr. Sacc) and Penicillium molds of litchi (caused by several Penicillium). A South African isolate of P. digitatum, isolated from an infected orange fruit, was found to be resistant to imazalil (the standard postharvest fungicide used in South Africa). Sixty yeast and 92 Bacillus strains were screened for their antagonistic activity against this isolate of P. digitatum. None of the yeasts or Bacillus isolates produced a curative action against P. digitatum on oranges. However, yeast Isolate B13 provided excellent preventative control of P. digitatum, superior to all the Bacillus isolates, when it was applied to citrus fruit prior to artificial inoculation with P. digitatum. Electron microscopy showed that yeast Isolate B13 inhibited conidial germination of P. digitatum. For the control of P. digitatum pre-harvest, trees were sprayed with a yeast, Isolate B13, a few months or a few days before harvest. However, this treatment alone proved to be ineffective in providing preventative control of green mould on Valencia oranges. For the control of P. digitatum preharvest, trees were treated with potassium silicate for a full season. Regular potassium silicate treatments resulted in a significant preventative control of P. digitatum infection on both navel and Valencia oranges. Treatment of Eureka lemons with potassium silicate as a postharvest treatment for the control of P. digitatum resulted in reduced disease lesion diameters when applied preventatively or curatively. Electron microscopy showed that potassium silicate inhibited germination of P. digitatum conidia and growth of its mycelium. Hot-water dip treatment at 50-58°C for 60-180 seconds (in increments of 15 seconds), significantly reduced infection development in inoculated wounds of Valencia oranges compared with control fruit treated with tap water, without causing any rind damage. The integration of the yeast, a hot water dip and potassium silicate pre-and postharvest applications provided control of P. digitatum control in multiple packhouse trials. The control achieved by the yeast Isolate B13 or hot-water, and potassium silicate in the packhouse alone was superior or equivalent to that provided by imazalil. A similar study was also carried out to determine possible control measures for Penicillium sp. on litchis. In this study, a total of 23 yeast and 13 Bacillus isolates were obtained from litchi fruit surfaces. Ten yeast and 10 Bacillus isolates that had shown good efficacy against P. digitatum of citrus were added to these for screening against Penicillium sp. of litchis. None of the yeasts or Bacillus isolates produced a curative action against Penicillium sp. infection on litchis. However, several yeast isolates (YL4, YL10, YLH and B13) resulted in reduced severity of the pathogen, when applied preventatively, compared with an untreated control. The yeast isolates were superior to all the Bacillus isolates, when applied to litchis prior to artificial inoculation by Penicillium infection on litchis. Potassium silicate as a postharvest treatment for the control of the pathogen caused reduced lesion diameters when applied preventatively or curatively to naturally infected litchis. The results presented in this thesis highlight the use of biological, physical and agronomic practices singly or in combination as an alternative control strategy against citrus postharvest green mould. This thesis also provides an insight into expanding these strategies, partly or fully, for the control of other postharvest Penicillium infections using litchi as an example.
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