Date of this Version
European Journal of Plant Pathology 135 (2013), pp. 499–508;
Tree canopies are architecturally complex and pose several challenges for measuring and character-izing spatial patterns of disease. Recently developed methods for fine-scale canopy mapping and three-dimensional spatial pattern analysis were applied in a 3-year study to characterize spatio-temporal development of pre-harvest brown rot of peach, caused by Monilinia fructicola, in 13 trees of different maturity classes. We observed a negative correlation between an index of disease aggregation and disease incidence in the same tree (r = −0.653, P < 0.0001), showing that trees with higher brown rot incidence had lower aggregation of affected fruit in their canopies. Significant (P ≤ 0.05) within-canopy aggregation among symptomatic fruit was most pronounced for early-maturing cultivars and/or early in the epidemic. This is consistent with the notion of a greater importance of localized, within-tree sources of inoculum at the beginning of the epidemic. Four of five trees having >10 blossom blight symptoms per tree showed a significant positive spatial association of pre-harvest fruit rot to blossom blight within the same canopy. Spatial association analyses further revealed one of two out-comes for the association of new fruit rot symptoms with previous fruit rot symptoms in the same tree, whereby the relationship was either not significant or exhibited a significant negative associa-tion. In the latter scenario, the newly diseased fruit were farther apart from previously symptomatic fruit than expected by random chance. This unexpected result could have been due to uneven fruit ripening in different sectors of the canopy, which could have affected the timing of symptom devel-opment and thus led to negative spatial associations among symptoms developing over time in a tree.