Detection and quantification of Botrytis cinerea in pear fruit

LEAD INSTITUTION:  Westcape Biotech

The objective of this project is to develop a technique to detect and quantify Botrytis cinerea levels in orchards, packhouses and packed fruit. Furthermore, the technique developed will be used to detect and quantify infection levels on a continuous basis towards the development of a monitoring system for Botrytis cinerea within a specified batch of fruit.

The problem of Botrytis rot in pears does not only have a financial impact in terms of reduced export yield and quality. It also leads to reputational damage and penalties since it is often present in fruit delivered to foreign markets before symptoms are apparent but rot develops later in the market. The economic impact of Botrytis rot is significant and a system to monitor Botrytis cinerea infection and to potentially predict the incidence/ and or severity of Botrytis rot could lead to large-scale reductions in financial losses to the South African pear industry.

This project will produce an innovative new technique to rapidly and easily detect and quantify Botrytis cinerea infections of pear fruits. The system to detect and quantify Botrytis cinerea infections at various time-points will potentially provide the South African industry with a competitive advantage in disease monitoring and Botrytis rot control. The methodology developed can also be transferred to similar monitoring systems for other crops and pathogens.