Pathogens Associated With Tomato Post-Harvest Losses in Mwea, Kenya
Mugao, Lydia G.
Birgen, Jonah K.
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Tomato post-harvest pathogens are a threat to the harvested tomatoes. Tomato fruit attract more micro-organisms because of it being succulent, highly rich in nutrients and sugars that are medium for microbial growth. The pathogens destroy tomato fruits reducing the quantity of consumable fruits and at the same time lowering the profit made from the sales of the tomato fruits. Consumption of contaminated fruits results to food poisoning. Isolation and identification of pathogens causing tomato fruit rot is necessary in order to create awareness and reduce the risks of infections arising from handling and consumption of contaminated tomato fruits. The objective of this study was to isolate and identify pathogens that cause tomato fruit rots in Mwea Kenya and test the susceptibility of tomato cultivars to the rots. In this study infected tomato samples were collected from farms and markets in Mwea. Disease causing micro-organisms that were suspected to cause the post-harvest damage were isolated, identified and re-inoculated to wounded surface sterilized fresh harvested ripe tomato fruits to establish pathogenicity. Two common tomato cultivars (Kilele F1 and Roma V.F) grown in Mwea were tested for susceptibility to the common post-harvest tomato pathogens in the area. Data was analysed using SPSS frequency, percent and chi-square test statistics. Six pathogens were isolated from infected tomato samples and they varied significantly (p<0.001) with Furasium spp. being the most prevalent (30%). Damage caused by the pathogens on tomato fruits also varied significantly (p<0.001) with Rhizopus spp. causing (100%) rot. The susceptibility of the tomato cultivars to the test pathogens differed significantly (p<0.045) with Kilele F1 being the most susceptible. These findings will be of importance in making the farmers and consumers aware of pathogens causing tomato rots and cultivars that are susceptible to rots.