Nocturnal fanning suppresses downy mildew epidemics in sweet basil

Yigal Cohen, Yariv Ben-Naim

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18 Scopus citations


Downy mildew is currently the most serious disease of sweet basil around the world. The oomycete causal agent Peronospora belbahrii requires ≥ 4h free leaf moisture for infection and ≥7.5h of water-saturated atmosphere (relative humidity RH≥95%) at night for sporulation. We show here that continued nocturnal fanning (wind speed of 0.4-1.5 m/s) from 8pm to 8am dramatically suppressed downy mildew development. In three experiments conducted during 2015, percent infected leaves in regular (non-fanned) net-houses reached a mean of 89.9, 94.3 and 96.0% compared to1.2, 1.7 and 0.5% in adjacent fanned net-houses, respectively. Nocturnal fanning reduced the number of hours per night with RH≥95% thus shortened the dew periods below the threshold required for infection or sporulation. In experiments A, B and C, the number of nights with ≥4h of RH≥95% was 28, 10 and 17 in the non-fanned net-houses compared to 5, 0 and 5 in the fanned net-houses, respectively. In the third experiment leaf wetness sensors were installed. Dew formation was strongly suppressed in the fanned net-house as compared to the non-fanned net-house. Healthy potted plants became infected and sporulated a week later if placed one night in the non-fanned house whereas healthy plants placed during that night in the fanned house remained healthy. Infected potted basil plants sporulated heavily after one night of incubation in the non-fanned house whereas almost no sporulation occurred in similar plants incubated that night in the fanned house. The data suggest that nocturnal fanning is highly effective in suppressing downy mildew epidemics in sweet basil. Fanning prevented the within-canopy RH from reaching saturation, reduced dew deposition on the leaves, and hence prevented both infection and sporulation of P. belbahrii.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0155330
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 May 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Cohen, Ben-Naim. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


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