Linking Pythium soil abundance to disease development in Mid-Atlantic maize Delaware Biosciences Center for Advanced Technology ARC
Alyssa Koehler, University of Delaware Erin Sparks, University of Delaware
Agriculture is a critical component of Delaware’s economy, with corn (Zea mays L.) as the top grain crop by acres grown. Reduced tillage practices and abundant spring rainfall have resulted in new challenges for corn production in Delaware and yield loss due to disease is a major concern. Pythium root rot, caused by Pythium spp., can result in stunting or death of corn seedlings. In plants that overcome early Pythium infection, dramatic reduction in yield potential is observed. At present, there is no mitigation strategy to combat these losses, but improved understanding of Pythium distribution in the soil profile will provide the foundation to recommend modification of pre-plant and in-season management strategies to reduce yield loss. Here we partner with a Sussex County corn producer to characterize spatial distribution of Pythium within the soil profile, to quantify Pythium load in field areas under different irrigation patterns, and to develop non-invasive in-season disease severity assessment techniques linked to the spatial distribution of Pythium. Through integrated lab, field, and engineering approaches, the findings of this project will continue the development of early detection and diagnostic capabilities and inform mitigation strategies to reduce yield loss to Pythium and improve the economic potential of Delaware farmers.