Root rot and plant wilting caused by Phytophthora nicotianae is a severe disease of chili pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) in open fields and under greenhouse production in Tunisia. Chili pepper grafting for disease manage- ment is attracting increased interest in recent years. Using the tube grafting technique, different compatible scion/rootstock combinations were obtained with the wild-type pepper SCM334 and the local chili pepper cultivars ‘Beldi’ and ‘Baker’. SCM334 was resistant to P. nicotianae, while the cultivars Beldi and Baker were susceptible. Plant inoculations were performed with P. nicotianae zoospores, and severity of root rot was rated 30 days post- inoculation using a 0 (healthy plant) to 5 (dead plant) severity score. On SCM334 rootstock and with ‘Beldi’ or ‘Baker’ scions, the intensity of root rot was very low (mean score 0.1–0.2) and plants were healthy. However, with Baker or Beldi rootstocks and SCM334 scions, root rot was severe (mean score 3.1–4.6), leading to high numbers of wilting and dead plants. This severe root rot was similar to that observed on non-grafted plants of ‘Baker’ and ‘Beldi’ inoculated with the pathogen. Under greenhouse conditions, measurements of agronomic characters indicated non-consistent improvement of these features on the scion cultivar when SCM334 was the rootstock. Since plant foliage is not attacked by this pathogen, these results show that susceptible chili pepper scions grafted onto SCM334 rootstocks could be used for root rot management and improvement of pepper yields in P. nicotianae infested soils.
Capsicum annuum; tube-grafting; resistance