Fusarium spp. are commonly isolated from soybean roots but the pathogenic activity of most species is poorly documented. Aggressiveness and yield impact of nine species of Fusarium were determined on soybean in greenhouse (50 isolates) and field microplot (19 isolates) experiments. Root rot severity and shoot and root dry weights were compared at growth stages V3 or R1. Root systems were scanned and digital image analysis was conducted; yield was measured in microplots. Disease severity and root morphology impacts varied among and within species. Fusarium graminearum was highly aggressive (root rot severity >90%), followed by F. proliferatum and F. virguliforme. Significant variation in damping-off (20 to 75%) and root rot severity (<20 to >60%) was observed among F. oxysporum isolates. In artificially-infested microplots, root rot severity was low (<25%) and mean yield was not significantly reduced. However, there were significant linear relationships between yield and root symptoms for some isolates. Root morphological characteristics were more consistent indicators of yield loss than root rot severity. This study provides the first characterization of aggressiveness and yield impact of Fusarium root rot species on soybean at different plant stages and introduces root image analysis to assess the impact of root pathogens on soybean.
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