Peeling the onion: Towards a better understanding of botrytis diseases of onion

Maikel B.F. Steentjes, Olga E. Scholten, Jan A.L. van Kan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Onion is cultivated worldwide for its bulbs, but production is threatened by pathogens and pests. Three distinct diseases of onion are caused by species that belong to the fungal genus Botrytis. Leaf blight is a well-known foliar disease caused by B. squamosa that can cause serious yield losses. Neck rot is a postharvest disease that manifests in bulbs after storage and is associated with three species: B. aclada, B. allii, and B. byssoidea. The symptomless infection of onion plants in the field makes it difficult to predict the incidence of neck rot in storage, although progress on the detection of latent infection has been made. In onion cultivation for seed production, blighting of the inflorescence is caused by all four onion-specific Botrytis species plus the broad host range pathogen B. cinerea. Flower blight can reduce seed yield and contaminate seed. In this review, the long history of Botrytis diseases of onion is discussed, as well as recent and future approaches to acquire a better understanding of the biology and ecology of Botrytis spp. pathogenic on onion. New fundamental insights in the genetic, biochemical, and physiological aspects of Botrytis-onion interactions are essential to improve the breeding of Botrytis-resistant onion cultivars.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)464-473
Number of pages10
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 18 Mar 2021


  • Allium cepa
  • Botrytis
  • Disease control and pest management
  • Flower blight
  • Fungal pathogens
  • Host-parasite interactions
  • Leaf blight
  • Mycotoxins
  • Neck rot
  • Onion
  • Pathogen detection
  • Postharvest pathology


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