Belachew Asalf Tadesse

Research Scientist

(+47) 934 79 432

Ås H7

Visiting address
Høgskoleveien 7, 1433 Ås


Optimization of produce quality and storage conditions to reduce loss during long-term storage of root vegetables in Norway (OPTIROOT, 2016-2019) Authors: Thomsen, M.G., Indergaard, E., Asalf, B., Heltoft, P., Wold, A.B., Nordskog, B., Guren, G, Dyste, J. & Larsen, H. Author’s affiliation: Key words: carrot, swede, celeriac, storage technology, diseases, physiological disorder, packaging, nutrition Reducing yield loss along the supply chains is important for resource sustainability in vegetable production. Norwegian root vegetables are typically stored 6 to 8 months before consumption, often resulting in 20-30% loss post harvest. In OptiRoot 26 producers, refrigeration-technology companies, sensor developer, grower’s organisation, agricultural advisory service, and four research institutes are cooperating and conducting research to improve storage quality of carrot, swede and celeriac. The research focuses on: i) Fertilizer/Boron deficiency affects the storage quality of root vegetables and amount, methods of application, and timing of boron are studied in swede and celeriac. ii) Interaction between storage conditions/functions and produce quality of the root vegetables through mapping of technical features of 27 storages. The storage conditions recorded are relative humidity, air movement, temperature in boxes and storages, and physical features of storages. In addition, the physiological and health status of the produces are assessed one week before harvest, postharvest and post-storage. The prevalence of fungal diseases or disorders varied from region to region and between storages. iii) Effects of pre-storage wound healing are tested using seven different temperature strategies (direct to 0° C vs. down 0.2° C per day vs. 1° C per day) and low/high humidity in carrot (2016/17/18), celeriac and swede (2017/18/19). Preliminary results show that wound healing reduced loss due to fungal infections in carrot iv) CO2 concentration, temperature and relative humidity were recorded over time inside carrot storage bin liners with different numbers of perforations. An initial screening indicated a positive correlation between number of holes and number of fresh roots. As a post storage method, coating of swede with chitosan oligomers will be tested to inhibit growth of post-harvest pathogens. In conclusion, OptiRoot have gained good progress and promising preliminary results by connecting data on biology and technology for reduction of loss during long-term storage.


Researchers in plant pathology and entomology often study the interaction between a host plant and its pathogen or an insect pest separately. Although studying single pathogen or insect interactions with a host plant is critical to understand the basic infection processes and to model each disease or pest attack separately, this is an extreme simplification of nature’s complexity, where multiple pests and pathogens often appear in parallel and interact with each other and their host plant. Effective management of pests and diseases require understanding of the complex interaction beteween diseases and pests on the host. Under natural conditions, wheat plants are subjected to attack by several insects and pathogens simultaneously or sequentially. The Bird cherry-oat aphid (Rhopalosiphum padi) and the necrotrophic pathogen Parastagonospora nodorum (syn. Stagonospora nodorum) the causal agent of Stagonospora nodorum blotch (SNB) are economically important pests of wheat in Norway. Since they colonize a common host, they may interact directly through competition for resources or indirectly by affecting the host response either positively (induced resistance) or negatively (induced susceptibility or biopredisposition). The effect of aphid infestation on P. nodorum infection and development of the disease could be an important factor in predicting SNB epidemics. However, studies on this multitrophic interactions are scarce. We conducted controlled greenhouse experiments to study the effect of aphid infestation on subsequent SNB development. The wheat cultivar ‘Bjarne’ was treated as follows:1) Aphid infested + insecticide sprayed + P. nodorum inoculated; 2) Insecticide sprayed + P. nodorum inoculated; 3) Water sprayed + P. nodorum inoculated; 4) Control plants (without aphid, insecticide or P. nodorum). When plants were at ca. BBCH 37, 18 adult female aphids (R. padi) were released per pot (treatment 1). Aphid inoculated plants were kept in an insect proof cage in a greenhouse compartment at 20°C, 70% RH, and 16 h photoperiod. Plants for the other treatments were kept in separate insect proof cages in the same greenhouse. Ten days after aphid release, plants infested with aphids (treatment 1) were sprayed with the insecticide BISCAYA (a.i. thiacloprid) at recommended concentration to remove aphids. Plants in treatment 2 and 3 were sprayed with the insecticide and water, respectively. Twenty-four hours after application of the insecticide or water, plants in treatment 1, 2, and 3 were inoculated with P. nodorum spore suspension (106 spores ml-1). The experiment included three replicates and was repeated two times. SNB incidence and severity were recorded. SNB incidence and severity were significantly higher on aphid infested plants than on non-infested plants (P < 0.05). Ten days after P. nodorum inoculation, disease severity were about 3-fold higher on aphid infested plants (treatment 1) than on non-infested plants (treatment 2 and 3). Plants in the blank control (treatment 4) were free of aphids and showed no symptoms of SNB . Infestation of wheat plants by the bird cherry-oat aphid prior to fungal inoculation enhanced the severity of SNB. P. nodorum is a necrotrophic pathogen that lives on nutrients from disintegrated plant cells. The increase in severity of SNB on aphid infested plants could be due to the increased number of dead or dying cells around the aphids feeding sites. However, whether aphids activity induced local or systemic susceptbility to plants is not yet known and needs to be studied further.