Crop and Pasture Science Crop and Pasture Science Society
Plant sciences, sustainable farming systems and food quality

The epidemiology and control of ascochyta blight in field peas: a review

T. W. Bretag A D , P. J. Keane B and T. V. Price C
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Primary Industries Research Victoria, Department of Primary Industries, Private Bag 260, Horsham, Vic. 3401, Australia.

B Department of Botany, La Trobe University, Vic. 3086, Australia.

C Department of Agriculture, La Trobe University, Vic. 3086, Australia.

D Corresponding author. Email:

Australian Journal of Agricultural Research 57(8) 883-902
Submitted: 23 June 2005  Accepted: 2 February 2006   Published: 9 August 2006


Ascochyta blight is one of the most important diseases affecting field peas. The disease occurs in almost all pea-growing regions of the world and can cause significant crop losses when conditions are favourable for an epidemic. Here we review current knowledge of the epidemiology of the disease. Details are provided of disease symptoms, the disease cycle and the taxonomy of the causal fungi, Ascochyta pisi, Mycosphaerella pinodes and Phoma pinodella.

The importance of seed-, soil- and air-borne inoculum is discussed along with the factors that influence survival of the causal fungi in soil, on seed or associated with pea trash. Many studies have been reviewed to establish how the fungi responsible for the disease survives from year to year, how the disease becomes established in new crops and the conditions that favour disease development. Evidence is provided that crop rotation, destruction of infected pea trash and chemical seed treatments can significantly reduce the amount of primary inoculum. Later sowing of crops has been shown to reduce the incidence and severity of disease. Fungicides have been used successfully to control the disease, although the cost of their application can significantly reduce the profitability of the crop. The best long-term strategy for effective disease control appears to be the development of ascochyta blight resistant pea varieties. Reports of physiological specialisation in ascochyta blight fungi are also documented. Despite extensive screening of germplasm, relatively few sources of resistance to ascochyta blight fungi have been found in Pisum sativum. However, the discovery of much better sources of resistance in closely related species and the development of advanced breeding methods offer new possibilities for developing useful resistance.

Additional keywords: chemical control, crop loss assessment, disease cycle, disease resistance, host-pathogen interactions, taxonomy.


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