Lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) seedlings diseases caused by soilborne pathogens are characterised by root rot, stem rot and damping-off of the seedlings that can occur at any time during growth. Fusarium solani, Pythium ultimum and Rhizoctonia solani are known to be the important destructive pathogens of lettuce, causing severe yield losses in South Africa. The aim of this research was to evaluate the effects of three selected fungicides to control these pathogens on lettuce seedlings. In this study the fungicides metalaxyl (Apron®), fludioxonil (Celest®) and mefenoxam (Subdue®) were applied at two concentrations as single and double doses on lettuce seedlings to determine their efficacy to control the pathogens Fusarium solani, Pythium ultimum and Rhizoctonia solani after significant reduction of mycelia growth was observed in vitro. Cultures of P. ultimum (UPGH024), R. solani (UPGH122) and F. solani (UPGH122) were obtained from the culture collection of the Department of Microbiology and Plant Pathology, University of Pretoria and cultivated on PDA for 2 days at 25ºC. Pasteurised soil was artificially inoculated with these pathogens. For the first experiment lettuce seeds were planted in polystyrene seedling trays at a depth of 1.0 cm. There were four replications of 50 seeds per treatment. In Experiment 2 pots (12 cm x 7 cm) were filled with pasteurised growing medium and 3-week old seedlings were transplanted. There were three replications of six pots containing three plants each. Seedling trays and pots were drenched with fungicides and placed in a randomised block design in a controlled environment room at 20- 26°C with a 12h-light/dark regime. The seedling trays and pots were rotated daily in the room. Seedling trays and pots were watered daily to maintain field capacity. The seedlings were able to grow larger in the pots than in seedling trays. It was confirmed that the treatment with fludioxonil (Celest®) at double and single dose inhibited the growth of the three fungi F. solani, P. ultimum and R. solani on lettuce seedlings without causing phytotoxicity. All three fungicides significantly reduced the diseases caused by the three pathogens. These findings are consistent with previous reports that fludioxonil, metalaxyl and mefenoxam can control oomycete fungi. There are few registered fungicides for the control of Fusarium solani, Pythium ultimum and Rhizoctonia solani on lettuce, therefore further work will aim to confirm these results in the field.
Dissertation (MInstAgrar)--University of Pretoria, 2011.