Campus News

Looking for a cause

Fusarium wilt, a pathogen that causes damping off of young seedlings and wilting of mature plants, has become a concern for Southeastern U.S. watermelon growers.

Bhabesh Dutta
, an assistant professor of plant pathology in UGA’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, and his fellow researchers are looking at the impact micronutrients in the soil have on Fusarium wilt.

“What we have seen with other diseases is that soil fertility and the concentration of micronutrients in the soil did affect certain diseases,” Dutta told “We have tried this concept on peppers for the last four years and discovered it holds true for bacterial spot disease.”

In addition, they have been comparing plants with severe cases and plants with lesser symptoms.

“I hope to see differences,” Dutta said. “The genotype of the host determines the resistance of the pathogen. Certain watermelon cultivars have resistance to one or few races of this pathogen, and depending on that interaction, we’ll see different disease reaction or symptoms.”