Pre-colonisation of strawberry runners and tray plants with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi to manage Verticillium wilt


The Problem:

Strawberry wilt, caused by Verticillium dahliae Kleb., can reduce yield by up to 75%. For c. 40 years, soil was routinely fumigated with methyl bromide until it was banned by the 1994 Montreal Protocol which became effective in the UK in 2006. Another fumigant, chloropicrin, is to be withdrawn from Europe in 2013. Extensive effort has gone into finding alternatives. Among these, incorporation of green manures that release volatile fungitoxic compounds, so-called biofumigation, shows promise as a component of a disease management strategy.
In a recent Hort-LINK project, a group of scientists led by EMR demonstrated that lavender waste can effectively reduce Verticillium wilt severity on strawberry and identified three key terpenoids responsible for the observed suppressive effect. In a follow-on TSB project, EMR is leading a consortium to investigate whether pelletised lavender waste and microencapsulated terpenoids can effectively control strawberry wilt. Results so far, however, indicate limited efficacy of these products. Thus, other measures in addition to the biofumigation-based approach are needed.
Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) are ubiquitous in terrestrial ecosystems where they are major components of the soil microbial biomass. Mycorrhizal associations are multi-functional, assisting the plants in nutrient acquisition, water uptake, and protecting roots from pathogens. AMF have been shown to increase plant tolerance to V. dahliae on several crops, including pepper, strawberry and cotton. However, the beneficial effects offered by AMF can vary considerably.
A recent publication showed that one particular AMF strain significantly reduced strawberry wilt when plants were inoculated at planting. The extent of AMF root colonisation and their beneficial effects to plants are however also dependent on particular AMF strains and strawberry cultivars. Ensuring sufficient colonisation of strawberry planting materials (runners or tray plants) before trans-planting may further increase the benefit of AMF-symbiosis through physical exclusion of potential colonisation sites for soil pathogens.
Project code:
CP 106
01 October 2013 - 30 September 2016
AHDB Horticulture
AHDB sector cost:
Project leader:


CP 106_Report_Annual_2014 CP 106_Report_Annual_2015 CP 106_GS_Final_2016 CP 106_Report_Final_2016 CP 106_GS_Annual_2014 CP 106_GS_Annual_2015

About this project

Aims and objectives:
Project objectives:
This proposal aims to investigate whether AMF pre-colonised strawberry planting materials would reduce incidence or severity of wilt, focusing on the interaction among strawberry cultivars, AMF strains (species), and Verticillium strains with differing degrees of aggressiveness. Transcriptomic and histological studies will be conducted to investigate the likely genetic and physiological bases for the wilt suppressive effects offered by AMF. Finally it will investigate whether wilt can be further reduced when AMF is integrated with lavender waste derived products.