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Ongoing project

Revisiting brown etch of pumpkins (VG22012)

Key research provider: La Trobe University

What is it all about?

This project seeks to identify the causes of brown etch of pumpkins so that growers can better understand how to manage the condition more effectively.

Brown etch of pumpkin affects the fruit's skin and reduces marketable yields by up to 60 per cent under conducive conditions. Despite several research efforts over many years, a definitive cause of etch has yet to be identified. Previous research has considered the role of fungal pathogens, specific environmental factors, and pumpkin genetics but has not consistently reproduced the symptoms of brown etch. 

Using advanced DNA-sequencing technology, the research team will attempt to determine if pumpkins with etch have active or residual fungi, viruses or other pathogens that traditional approaches have not detected. They will also investigate the hypothesis that an overreaction to infection or stress causes the condition (hypersensitivity) by examining the cellular and metabolic changes associated with etching. These two approaches may lead to new management approaches or the identification of suitable DNA makers for future breeding strategies.

The project will build research capacity in the horticulture sector by training a PhD student in the latest technologies that can be applied in various plant production systems.

Related levy funds

This project is a strategic levy investment in the Hort Innovation Vegetable Fund