The Occurrence and Characterization of Alternaria alternata Causing Leaf Spots Disease of Spinach in Nandi and Uasin Gishu Counties, Kenya
Spinach (Spinacia oleracea) is an important vegetable crop in Kenya cultivated by small-scale farmers for domestic use and commercial production. Alternaria leaf spot caused by Alternaria alternata is among the economically significant diseases of spinach causing low yield and poor-quality crop. There is little information available on occurrence and the nature of Alternaria leaf spot disease of spinach in Kenya. The aim of the present study was to establish the occurrence and characterize the causal pathogen in the laboratory and in farmers’ fields. An extensive survey was conducted in seven selected Sub-counties namely; Mosop, Chesumei, Aldai, Nandi Hills, Emgwen of Nandi County and Kapseret, Moiben of Uasin Gishu county. In each farm the disease incidence was determined and diseased samples collected for isolation, identification and characterization in the laboratory. The study revealed that the disease occurred in all the Sub-counties surveyed. Out of the 40 farms surveyed 23 (57.5%) had leaf spot disease with a mean incidence of 21.37 %. The highest disease incidence was observed in Mosop Sub-county (41.31%). Similarly, when isolates were studied in the laboratory, their morphological characteristics varied from fairly compact to luxuriant mycelial growth, texture varied from feathery to cottony. The growth rate was between 2.98 and 4.05 mm/day, and the spore count after 12 days was between 4.68×104 and 7.4×104 conidia/ml. This is the first report on the occurrence and incidence of Alternaria leaf spot caused by Alternaria alternata of spinach in Kenya. This therefore necessitates the development of management practices to reduce crop loss due to the pathogen.
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