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A Simple Generic Infection Model for Foliar Fungal Plant Pathogens

    Authors and Affiliations
    • R. D. Magarey
    • T. B. Sutton
    • C. L. Thayer

      Published Online:

      In this study, a simple generic infection model was developed for predicting infection periods by fungal foliar pathogens. The model is designed primarily for use in forecasting pathogens that do not have extensive epidemiological data. Most existing infection models require a background epidemiological data set, usually including laboratory estimates of infection at multiple temperature and wetness combinations. The model developed in this study can use inputs based on subjective estimates of the cardinal temperatures and the wetness duration requirement. These inputs are available for many pathogens or may be estimated from related pathogens. The model uses a temperature response function which is scaled to the minimum and optimum values of the surface wetness duration requirement. The minimum wetness duration requirement (Wmin) is the number of hours required to produce 20% disease incidence or 5% disease severity on inoculated plant parts at a given temperature. The model was validated with published data from 53 controlled laboratory studies, each with at least four combinations of temperature and wetness. Validation yielded an average correlation coefficient of 0.83 and a root mean square error of 4.9 h, but there was uncertainty about the value of the input parameters for some pathogens. The value of Wmin varied from 1 to 48 h and was relatively uniform for species in the genera Cercospora, Alternaria, and Puccinia but less so for species of Phytophthora, Venturia, and Colletotrichum. Operationally, infection models may use hourly or daily weather inputs. In the case of the former, information also is required to estimate the critical dry-period interruption value, defined as the duration of a dry period at relative humidities <95% that will result in a 50% reduction in disease compared with a continuous wetness period. Pathogens were classified into three groups based on their critical dry-period interruption value. The infection model is being used to create risk maps of exotic pests for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal Plant Health and Inspection Service.