Sphaerellopsis filum is a mycoparasite of Puccinia graminis subsp. graminicola, a rust fungus that causes widespread crop damage on perennial ryegrass grown for seed. In observations taken over the winter months, S. filum was found naturally colonizing 2% of P. graminis subsp. graminicola uredinia on first-year plantings and 25% of the uredinia on second-year plantings of perennial ryegrass. In controlled experiments conducted in glasshouses and growth chambers, S. filum applied to rust-inoculated plants reduced the lifetime spore production of P. graminis subsp. graminicola pustules by half, from 39,000 to 18,000 spores/pustule. Mist duration, temperature, and P. graminis subsp. graminicola pustule age at the time of S. filum inoculation had significant effects on the proportion of P. graminis subsp. graminicola pustules infected by S. filum. Fifty percent of all P. graminis subsp. graminicola pustules were infected when S. filum was inoculated onto erumpent pustules and incubated above 5°C for 48 h while exposed to mist. Plants inoculated with both fungi under controlled conditions and then planted into the field had a significantly greater proportion of P. graminis subsp. graminicola pustules infected with S. filum, and a significantly reduced P. graminis subsp. graminicola overwintering population, compared with plants inoculated with P. graminis subsp. graminicola only. First-year stands of perennial ryegrass treated in the field with monthly applications of S. filum had more than 10 times the proportion of pustules infected with S. filum and 50% less P. graminis subsp. graminicola disease compared with the nontreated controls. In comparison, plants with one application of fungicide during the winter had 98% lower P. graminis subsp. graminicola severity than the P. graminis subsp. graminicola-only control There were no effects of S. filum or fungicide application on rust severity in 2- or 3-year-old perennial ryegrass stands.
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