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Main research question/goal
The soilborne fungus Verticillium can cause significant wilt damage on hop, mainly to the aromatic cultivars that are particularly important for Belgian beer brewers. Verticillium albo-atrum and Verticillium dahliae are currently quarantine organism on hop plants for planting. For V. nonalfalfae (= new name for V. albo-atrum isolates that are present on hop), there is a lethal and a mild form. The first goal of the project VERTIHOP is to investigate which Verticillium species are present on hop in Belgium. In case V. nonalfalfae would be present, is it the mild form or the lethal form? We will also elucidate how the disease enters into a hop field and how we can quickly detect its latent presence in both plants for planting as in soil of potential new hop fields.   

Research approach
We develop sensitive and efficient detection and characterization methods for Verticillium species on hop plant material and in soil. Subsequently, we use these optimized techniques to analyze symptomatic and asymptomatic plants and associated soil. We collect these samples during a survey at almost all Belgian hop growers. Finally, we use Next Generation Sequencing techniques to characterize the collected Verticillium isolates: to distinguish the lethal from the mild form and to determine the population structure. The latter will help us determine when Verticillium entered Belgium.

This research will be important to provide recommendations on government decisions concerning phytosanitary actions. In addition, ILVO and Inagro will provide screening tests for planting material and for soil, which will be directly available to growers and the government. The researchers will publish their results in scientific journals and plant industry magazines.

Funding provider(s)
FOD Volksgezondheid, Veiligheid van de voedselketen en Leefmilieu

External partner(s)
Effective start/end date1/01/1831/12/19

ID: 5874790