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Title: Calcium and potassium imbalance favours leaf blight and defoliation caused by Calonectria pteridis in eucalyptus plants
Keywords: Disease resistance
Plant nutrition-disease relationship
Eucalyptus disease
Leaf spot
Issue Date: 2018
Publisher: MDPI
Citation: SOARES, T. P. F. et al. Calcium and potassium imbalance favours leaf blight and defoliation caused by Calonectria pteridis in eucalyptus plants. Forests, [S.l.], v. 9, n. 12, 2018.
Abstract: The supply of nutrients in balanced proportions leads to greater crop yields and represents an alternative practice for the management of plant diseases. Accordingly, we investigated the effect of the doses of and the nutritional balance between calcium (Ca) and potassium (K) on the severity of leaf spot and defoliation caused by the fungus Calonectria pteridis. Moreover, the effect of the treatments on the growth of interspecific hybrid eucalyptus clone seedlings (Eucalyptus grandis Hill ex Maiden × E. urophylla S.T. Blake), which are highly susceptible to the disease, was evaluated. The 25 treatments comprised combinations of one of five doses of Ca (1.2, 3.0, 6.0, 9.0 and 12.0 mmol L−1) with one of five doses of K (0.8, 2.0, 4.0, 8.0 and 12.0 mmol L−1) and five replicates of each treatment were included in the study. The supply of high concentrations of K favoured C. pteridis infection and resulted in high disease severity, although defoliation was not observed. However, the supply of both nutrients in excess (12.0 mmol L−1 Ca × 9.0 mmol L−1 K) resulted in a higher disease severity and an increased defoliation percentage (82 and 64%, respectively). Defoliation not associated with Calonectria leaf blight disease was observed with the imbalanced treatments, that is, the treatments combining a low concentration of one nutrient and an excess concentration of the other nutrient. The supply of K at a level near the standard dose (6 mmol L−1) and of Ca at a dose above 4 mmol L−1 (standard dose) ensured high mean values for the morphological variables root and shoot biomass, plant height and chlorophyll a and b contents. These treatments also resulted in low disease severity and defoliation percentages, indicating that a balanced supply of Ca and K ensures reductions in disease severity and defoliation and contributes to higher growth.
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