There is no complete resistance to Sclerotinia sclerotiorum, cause of white mold in dry bean (Phaseolus vulgaris). Variable resistance expression is one problem in screening for improved white mold resistance. With no previous information in the literature, pathogen variation in multisite screening nurseries was evaluated as one cause of diverse resistance expression. In all, 10 isolates of S. sclerotiorum used in greenhouse screening and 146 isolates collected from nine white mold field screening nurseries in major bean production areas in the United States were compared using mycelial compatibility groupings (MCGs) and an aggressiveness test. These 10 greenhouse screening isolates formed six MCGs. Among 156 field and greenhouse isolates, 64 MCGs were identified and 36 of those were each composed of a single unique isolate. Significant differences in isolate aggressiveness were found between some isolates in different MCGs but the isolates within an MCG did not differ in aggressiveness. High isolate variation found within and between field locations could influence the disease phenotype of putative white mold resistant germplasm. We next compared genotype and phenotype of isolates from screening nurseries and those from producer fields. Variability found in and among screening locations did reflect variability found in the four producer fields sampled. White mold resistance screening can be improved by knowledge of isolate genotypic and phenotypic characteristics.
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