In August of 2006, soybean (Glycine max (L.) Merr.) plants collected from Columbia, Dane, Green Lake, Walworth, Jefferson, and Waushara counties in southern Wisconsin exhibited symptoms typical of sudden death syndrome (SDS) caused by Fusarium virguliforme O'Donnell & Aoki [synonym F. solani (Mart.) Sacc. f. sp. glycines] (1). Foliar symptoms ranged from chlorotic spots to severe interveinal chlorosis and necrosis. Taproots of symptomatic plants were necrotic and stunted and stems exhibited a light tan discoloration, but never the dark brown discoloration typical for brown stem rot, a disease with similar foliar symptoms. Isolations from root and crown tissue of symptomatic plants were made using one-quarter-strength potato dextrose agar (PDA) amended with 100 ppm of streptomycin. Slow-growing, white-to-cream fungal colonies with blue and turquoise sporodochia were observed. Spores produced in sporodochia grown on PDA ranged in size from 32.5 to 70 μm long (average 53.1 μm) and 3 to 6 μm wide (average 4.4 μm) and with 3-5 septa (mode of 3). Isolates were characteristic of F. virguliforme based on colony morphology, spore morphology and size, and the absence of microconidia (3). The identity of F. virguliforme was confirmed by PCR amplification and DNA sequencing of the ITS, BT1, Act, and EF1B regions. All isolate sequences exhibited single nucleotide polymorphisms that matched the sequences of these regions of F. virguliforme. Koch's postulates were conducted to confirm that the causal agent of the observed symptoms was F. virguliforme. Inoculum of single-spore isolates was produced on sterilized sorghum seed. After 14 days of incubation at 20 to 22°C and a 12-h photoperiod, the sorghum seed was assayed to determine colonization incidence by transferring seeds to PDA. In all trials, sorghum seed was 100% infested. Infested sorghum seeds (35) were placed in potting soil at 2 cm beneath each seed of the susceptible soybean cv. Williams 82 (4). Noninfested sorghum seed was used for a noninoculated control. Three trials were performed, each using 15 replicates of several fungal isolates and 15 replicates of the noninoculated control. Plants were grown in water baths located in a greenhouse (trial 1) and in a growth chamber (trial 2) and both maintained at an average temperature of 25°C with a 14-h photoperiod (2). The third trial was conducted in the growth chamber without a water bath with the same temperature and light regimen. In all environments, inoculated plants developed chlorotic spots 14 days after planting. After 21 days, symptoms progressed to a range of chlorotic mottling to interveinal chlorosis and necrosis. Foliar and root symptoms that resembled those on the original plant samples infected with F. virguliforme appeared on 88% of inoculated plants. Isolates that resembled the original F. virguliforme were recovered from 75% of inoculated plants and from 88% of plants showing symptoms. No symptoms were observed and no isolates were recovered from noninoculated plants. There was a statistically significant difference between inoculated and control plants (P < 0.001) based on the presence of symptoms and isolation success using the Goodman χ2 analysis. The confirmation of the presence of SDS in five counties suggests that the disease is widespread in Wisconsin and could become a serious threat to soybean production in the future.
References: (1) T. Akoi et al. Mycoscience 46:162, 2005. (2) R. Y. Hashmi et al. Online publication. doi:10.1094/PHP-2005-0906-01-RS. Plant Health Progress, 2005. (3) K. W. Roy et al. Plant Dis. 81:259, 1997. (4) J. C. Rupe et al. Can. J. Bot. 79:829, 2001.