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Combining quince (Cydonia oblonga) rootstock with soil-applied calcium chloride solution as a strategy to control brown spot (Stemphylium vesicarium) incidence in Abbé Fétel pear fruits

Department of Agricultural and Food Sciences, University of Bologna, Viale Giuseppe Fanin, 46, 40127 Bologna, Italy

Brown spot (Stemphylium vesicarium) is a fungal disease widespread in European pear industry. The high number of fungicide applications required to control the disease can promote strains with fungicide resistance. The aim of the present study was to assess the effectiveness of soil- applied water solution of calcium chloride in combination with rootstock to control the incidence of brown spot in Abbé Fétel pear. Soil salinity, stem water and osmotic potential, along with fruit fraction of calcium and defence-mechanism related-enzymes such as peroxidase, polyphenol oxidase, phenyl-alanine ammonia-lyase, and β-1,3-glucanase were investigate in tree grafted on Fox 11 (Pyrus communis L.) and Sydo®, a quince (Cydonia oblonga) rootstock. Both grafting combinations were fertigated or not with calcium chloride. Sydo® showed a positive effect in reducing brown spot severity on Abbé Fétel. Compared to Fox 11, fruits from trees grafted on Sydo® showed higher calcium concentrations, fraction of calcium pectate, fruit firmness, polyphenol oxidase, phenyl- alanine ammonia-lyase and β-1,3-glucanase levels. Fruit calcium concentration was positively correlated with disease fruit tolerance. However, soil calcium applications were ineffective in promoting fruit calcium partitioning. Calcium chloride applications decreased leaf osmotic and stem water potential in trees grafted onto Sydo®, but this wasn’t found in those grafted on Fox 11. In conclusion, Sydo® rootstock promoted Ca acquisition, osmotic adjustment at leaf and fruit level, fruit synthesis of defence-related enzymes that all together reduced brown spot severity in Abbé Fétel pear.
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