Waitea circinata var. circinata was first reported as the causal agent of brown ring patch on annual bluegrass (Poa annua L.) in the United States in 2007 (2). In early April to mid-June of 2009, circular to irregularly shaped yellow rings resembling symptoms of this disease were observed on an annual bluegrass putting green at Rutgers University in North Brunswick, NJ. Severely infected foliage eventually turned brown as the disease progressed. During the same time period, similar disease symptoms were observed on creeping bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera L.) from a golf course in Bedminster Township, NJ. The disease reappeared in both locations in April of 2010. Five additional samples with similar symptoms on creeping bentgrass and annual bluegrass were received at Rutgers Diagnostic Laboratory from Paramus, Madison, Allamuchy, and Farmingdale, NJ between late April and early May of 2010. Portions of diseased leaf and sheath tissue that displayed symptoms of the disease were disinfested for 1 min in 0.5% NaOCl, rinsed with sterile distilled water, and plated on potato dextrose agar (PDA) amended with 50 mg/liter of streptomycin sulfate. At the first sign of fungal growth, single hyphal tips were transferred to PDA. After 1 week at 25°C, white-to-orange mycelial colonies formed in culture and eventually turned brown with age. Minute sclerotia (≤3 mm), which followed the same color development pattern, formed within 10 days. These features are consistent with those described of W. circinata var. circinata (2,3). The internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region of the ribosomal RNA gene was amplified using primer pair ITS1/ITS4 and sequenced with ITS4 (GenBank Accession Nos. HQ166065 to HQ166071). BLASTn analysis of the ITS sequences showed a 99 to 100% similarity to W. circinata var. circinata sequences deposited in GenBank (1,2). Pathogenicity tests were conducted in 2010 using 6-week-old creeping bentgrass seedlings cv. Declaration inoculated with colonized oat grain that had been autoclaved and then infested with the Bedminster Township isolate. Eight colonized oat grains were uniformly spread around the crowns of seedlings grown in 10-cm-diameter pots. Control plants were treated with autoclaved grain. Plants were incubated at 25°C and high humidity maintained by misting the plants three times per day. Within 3 days postinoculation, foliage near infested grain turned chlorotic. All foliage in pots became completely blighted and spherical orange-brown sclerotia were observed on leaf sheaths by the eighth day. W. circinata var. circinata was consistently reisolated from inoculated plants (as confirmed by isolate morphology and ITS sequencing) but not from control plants. The ITS sequence data, morphological characters of the isolates, and pathogenicity tests demonstrate that W. circinata var. circinata is present in New Jersey. To our knowledge, this is the first report of W. circinata var. circinata infecting turfgrass in New Jersey.
References: (1) C. M. Chen et al. Plant Dis. 93:906, 2009. (2) K. A. de la Cerda et al. Plant Dis. 91:791, 2007. (3) T. Toda et al. Plant Dis. 89:536, 2005.