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Hass avocado cultivation in Colombia has grown rapidly in area in recent years. It is being planted in marginal areas, which leads to low yields, and in many cases is related to diseases. Ecological niche modeling (ENM) can offer a view of the potential geographic and environmental distribution of diseases, and thus identify areas with suitable or unsuitable conditions for their development. The aim of the study was to assess current and potential distribution of the major diseases on Hass avocado in Colombia. Areas planted with Hass avocado in Antioquia, Colombia were sampled for diseases including the following pathogens: Phytophthora cinnamomi, Verticillium sp., Lasiodiplodia theobromae, Phytophthora palmivora, Colletotrichum gloeosporioides sensu lato, Pestalotia sp., and Capnodium sp., and one disorder hypoxia-anoxia. These pathogens were selected based on their relevance (incidence-severity) and capacity to cause damage in different tissues of avocado plants. Severity and incidence of each disease were related to environmental information from vegetation indices and topographic variables using maximum entropy modeling approaches (MaxEnt). Models were calibrated only across areas sampled, and then transferred more broadly to areas currently planted, and to potential zones for planting. Combinations of best performance and low omission rates were the basis for model selection. Results show that Hass avocado has been planted in areas highly conducive for many pathogens, particularly for Phytophthora cinnamomi and hypoxia-anoxia disorder. Ecological niche modeling approaches offer an alternative toolset for planning and making assessments that can be incorporated into disease management plans.
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