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Measures to control fungal infestation on garden cress (Lepidium sativum L.) for production of pathogen-free seeds in organic farming


2011 - 2014

Garden cress (Lepidium sativum L.) is counted among the five economically most important herbs with the highest sales within the domains of medicinal and spice plant production in Germany. Recently, however, ecological seed production has been confronted with severe problems because of the occurrence of the downy mildew pathogens Hyaloperonospora parasitica and Perofascia lepidii and the causal agent of white rust, Albugo lepidii. Hence, cress seed availability is suffering heavily.

Cooperation Partners

Justus Liebig University Giessen
Ökoplant e.V.

Measures to control fungal infestation on garden cress (Lepidium sativum L.) for production of pathogen-free seeds in organic farming

To ensure sustainable endemic ecological seed production, it is a prerequisite to i) study pathogen infestation, ii) test seed lots, iii) find resistant varieties, iv) treat seeds physically and with ecological plant extracts and v) develop control methods on the field. In order to reach these aims, first of all it is important to investigate the biology and epidemiology of the pathogens. In order to examine contaminated seeds and plant material, it is necessary to develop a molecular biological detection method. The establishment of a resistance-screening test method facilitates the screening for resistant cress varieties. Seed treatments serve primarily to reduce the initial infection in the field. The ultimate success of all of these procedures will finally be verified under controlled (grow-out tests in pots) and under field conditions.

The purpose of this project is to compile a package of measures for producing healthy garden cress under organic farm conditions. The essential parts are guidelines for the control of pathogens in organic farming, the selection of resistant varieties as well as periodical screenings of seed lots and plants.

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