The global avocado industry is growing, and farmers are seeking to expand their plantations. However, many lands suitable for avocado planting were previously cultivated with hosts of the soil-borne fungal pathogen Verticillium dahliae, which is the causal agent of Verticillium wilt (VW). VW can seriously impair avocado orchards, and therefore, planting on infested soil is not recommended. The use of different rootstock types allows avocado cultivation in various regions with diverse biotic and abiotic constraints. Hence, we tested whether genetic variance among rootstocks may also be used to manage avocado VW. Six hundred trees, mostly Hass and some Ettinger, grafted on 23 selected rootstocks were evaluated for five years in a highly V. dahliae-inoculated plot for VW symptoms, fungal infection, and productivity. The selected rootstocks displayed a significant variation related to VW tolerance, and productive avocado rootstocks with potential VW tolerance were identified. Moreover, the rootstock productivity appears to correlate negatively to the susceptibility level. In conclusion, planting susceptible rootstocks (e.g., VC66, VC152, and VC26) in infested soil increases the likelihood of massive tree loss and low productivity. Whereas, tolerant rootstocks (e.g., VC804 and Dusa) may restrict VW and enable avocado cultivation on infested soils.
Keywords: Verticillium dahlia; Perse Americana; tolerance; resistant; disease.
Plants 2020, 9(4), 531; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants9040531