Develop and assess molecular diagnostic procedures for the rapid, specific and sensitive detection of root rot pathogens in symptomatic dry bean roots

April 1, 2013 – March 31, 2017

This project is led by Dr. Debra McLaren, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.


  • The increasing impact of root rot on dry bean may be associated with shifts in the composition of Fusarium spp. and other root rot pathogens related to agronomic practices such crop rotation with susceptible hosts, reduced tillage and increased glyphosate use (Fernandez et al. 2009, Steinkellner and Langer 2004). These findings emphasize the need to acquire additional information on root rot pathogens, including their distribution and field cropping history, in order to develop best management practices for this disease complex.
  • Molecular diagnostic tools are already being used to monitor shifts in pathogen and pest dynamics due to climate change and changes in agriculture systems. Such tools provide a more rapid and accurate identification of the pathogens causing yield loss and will therefore enable producers to more efficiently grow and manage their dry bean crops.
  • Methods to assess risk of root rot development in dry bean prior to planting are not available in Canada.
  • Before a risk assessment program can be developed, the major pathogens of bean root rot need to be identified, and quantitative as well as specific assays developed.
  • Dr. Maria Antonia Henriquez was hired on the NSERC Visiting Fellowship program to determine the diversity of Fusarium species and R. solani associated with root rot of field pea and dry bean in Manitoba crops.  The proposed study will take this knowledge and build upon it to develop new disease management strategies that integrate with current practices to improve the sustainability of dry bean production.


  • This research will be expanded into western Canada as well as Ontario, where commercial crops of dry bean will be evaluated for root rot, fungal colonies from root rot lesions will be isolated and Fusarium and Rhizoctonia spp. will be identified.
  • Distribution of pathogenic root rot fungi and the effect of cropping history on the disease severity will also be assessed.
  • Rapid detection and quantification methods for Fusarium and Rhizoctonia spp. will be developed for future implementation and support of disease management practices.