Mitigating measures against pathogenic fungi in onion intensified

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Following the detection of another plant pathogenic fungus in onion causing the anthracnose disease, Secretary Arthur C. Yap instructed concerned agencies of the Department of Agriculture (DA) to intensify mitigation measures and make the necessary actions to prevent further damage to onion industry.

The detection of the fungal pathogen, Gibberella moniliformis, in onion was a result of the study of Dr. Ronaldo T. Alberto of Central Luzon State University (CLSU) and Dr Vermando Aquino of UP National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (UP-NIMBB), which was presented in a public seminar at the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR). The study was funded under a research fellowship program of DA-BAR and the UP-Natural Science Research Institute (UP-NSRI). Previously, Colletotrichum gloeosporioides was thought to be the only causal organism. G. moniliformis is one of the microorganisms that can produce gibberellins, a substance with hormone properties.

According to Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) Director Joel S. Rudinas, the presence of giberrelins in affected plants had already been suspected even way back because of the elongation of the plants that is characteristic of gibberellins. Thus, BPI management was glad that the study of Drs. Alberto and Aquino confirmed their previous observations.

Rudinas explained that BPI has been working with the local government units in developing effective cultural management to abate the treat in the industry. BPI has recommended crop rotation, sanitation, and good agricultural practices as among the mitigating factors. BPI also welcomed the measures recommended by Drs. Alberto and Aquino particularly on the safe and judicious use of fungicides to control the disease.

Anthracnose-free onion plants.

According to Dr. Alberto, effective solutions to address the disease include the use of fungicides like phenylthalimides and, benzimidazole which show evidence of efficacy against both C. gloeosporioides and G. moniliformis. Similarly, the use of Triazole fungicides together with a gibberellin inhibitor could be one of the best approaches in managing the disease because of the high probability of gibberellins produced by G. moniliformis playing an important role in disease development.

Alberto added that the discovery and characterization of these pathogens bodes well for the formulation of an effective solution and suitable management strategies to neutralize or defeat the disease as scientists have now a better undertaking of the its complexity.

Meanwhile, Agriculture Secretary Arthur C. Yap expressed optimism that with the result of the study and the steps to be taken by concerned DA agencies, the threat to the onion industry can be managed.

Responding to Yap’s call for action, BAR is continuously supporting the onion growers and stakeholders through the implementation of its Onion Production Resource Management System (OPREMS). This is a custom-built software application system developed specifically for use by the onion sector through a community-based resource management system. This database is designed to provide a unified information system applicable for multi-stakeholder development projects in a cross-functional environment.(Edmon B. Agron)

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