NEW PHYTOTRON FOR STUDYING THE EFFECT OF CLIMATE CHANGE ON PLANT PATHOGENS

Submitted: 22 June 2012
Accepted: 22 June 2012
Published: 30 June 2012
Abstract Views: 1601
PDF: 1145
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The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in its recent fourth assessment report predicts that, because of higher concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, until 2100 the global mean temperature would rise between 0.6 and 4°C, in combination with changes in precipitation and an increased frequency of extreme weather events. Despite this trend, the extent and mechanisms through which elevated CO2 affects plant diseases remain uncertain. Increases in CO2 and temperatures are also expected to induce complex effects on plant pathogens. Although re- 10 search on the effects of climate change continues to be limited, new tools are permitting to study the effects of climate variables on infection rates in the case of some pathosystems. The shortage of critical epidemiological data on individual plant diseases needs to be addressed using experimental approaches. A useful tool for such types of studies is represented by phytotrons. Hereby, a new phytotron typology, built with the specific aim of studying the effect of climate change on plant disease, is described. Beginning from a general plant overview, key mechanical and electrical systems are described (i.e. air temperature and relative humidity control, lighting and CO2 control system etc.) as environmental parameters and operation cycle are summarized. In particular both parameters which could be set and monitored and those measured and stored are reported. After a suitable testing period, several operation cycles were performed in order to assess the control system’s stability and to optimize the management of all systems involved and the first experimental trials were carried out. The effect of three different simulated climatic conditions: 450 ppm of CO2 with standard temperature (ranging from 18 to 24°C or 18 to 26°C), elevated CO2 (800 ppm) with standard temperature and elevated CO2 (800 ppm) with elevated temperature (4°C higher than standard) on the development of grape powdery and downy mildew were tested.

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Gullino, M. L., Pugliese, M., Paravicini, A., Casulli, E., Rettori, A., Sanna, M. and Garibaldi, A. (2012) “NEW PHYTOTRON FOR STUDYING THE EFFECT OF CLIMATE CHANGE ON PLANT PATHOGENS”, Journal of Agricultural Engineering, 42(1), pp. 1–12. doi: 10.4081/jae.2011.1.1.