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Grey mould is a blight or rot of immature, fleshy or senescent tissues. Lesions develop as tan or brown, water-soaked areas, which may become greyish or dried out. The profuse grey-brown sporulation of the fungus on old diseased tissue is characteristic. Rotting of perishable plant produce at harvest or in storage causes large losses and can be particularly severe on soft fruits, such as strawberries and grapes, and vegetables such as cabbage and lettuce. Damping-off and basal leaf and stem rots cause severe damage to lettuce, flax and tomato. Blights of buds, blossom, leaves and stems also occur on a wide range of hosts and the fungus has been implicated in dieback and canker formation on woody plants (Ellis and Waller, 1974).
Control of grey mould is usually necessary to prevent crop losses or total crop failure in susceptible host plants grown under conditions that are favourable to the pathogen. Control is difficult to achieve because the fungus can attack all parts of the host plants at any stage of growth, often at or near harvest time, thus preventing the application of chemicals that leave toxic residues. Furthermore, the fungus has been shown to easily develop resistance to intensively-used fungicides.
Cultural Control and Sanitary Methods
Rational cultural practices must accompany other control methods in order to limit the damage caused by grey mould. Generally they aim at reducing the inoculum of B. fuckeliana and determining environmental conditions that are unfavourable to infection.
There are many way of growing crops to limit epidemics. The removal of decaying infected plant tissues, such as senescent leaves, pruning of grapevine and mulching of strawberry with plastic films are examples of methods that may be used to reduce the fungal inoculum. Adequate crop density, row orientation and a training system reduce the number of sites available to infection and the relative humidity. In protected crops, heating and ventilation can be exploited to increase temperature and decrease relative humidity, thus rendering the environment unfavourable to infection. Excessive use of fertilizers, especially nitrogen, and inappropriate irrigation are important factors that can predispose crops to grey mould.
Cultivars within the same plant species often show different levels of susceptibility to B. fuckeliana due to differences in morphology and growth habit.
No major resistance genes against the fungus are known, although some intrinsic resistance mechanisms occur, such as the production of wyerone derivatives in broad bean (Mansfield, 1980) and stilbenic compounds in grapevine (Langcake and McCarthy, 1979; Stein and Blaich, 1985; Liswidowati et al., 1991). The strategy of breeding for resistance is also difficult due to the broad genetic plasticity of the fungus.
There is a report of Lilium plants with resistance to Botrytis cinerea generated by a transgenic approach (González et al., 2015). Transgenic plants grown to flowering showed no detrimental phenotypic effects associated with transgene expression.
Biological control of B. fuckeliana is not used extensively although research has produced positive results (Fokkema et al., 1991; Gullino et al., 1991; Dubos, 1992; Gullino, 1992; Elad, 1996).
A bio-preparation containing Trichoderma harzianum (Trichodex) is effective against grey mould on a wide range of crops in several countries and is registered in Israel and Yugoslavia.
A bio-preparation containing Streptomyces griseovirides (Mycostop) (White et al., 1990) is also available for use on lettuce.
The major problem of biological control is its variable effectiveness. This prevents the exclusive use of biocontrol agents under most circumstances. In practice, it is highly conceivable that the best approach for most crops is the use of biocontrol agents along with conventional fungicides and cultural management systems in IPM strategies (Dubos, 1992; Gullino, 1992).
Due to the variable regulations around (de-)registration of pesticides, we are for the moment not including any specific chemical control recommendations. For further information, we recommend you visit the following resources:
B. fuckeliana infects a very wide range of plants including field-grown crops such as grapes and greenhouse-grown vegetables, flowers and fruits. It causes yield losses in the field and during postharvest storage and transport. It is difficult to assess the damage caused by B. fuckeliana. Economic losses of >50% may occur in many crops, depending on the prevailing environmental conditions. Intensive use of fungicides is needed to control grey mould. In Europe, 25-30% of vineyards (3.7 million hectares) were treated with fungicides in 1992 and 1993; the costs of fungicide applications were estimated to be 20-50 million ECU.