Seashore paspalum (Paspalum vaginatum Swartz.) is a prostrate-growing, perennial, warm-season turfgrass native to tropical and coastal areas (2). Because of its good texture and natural tolerance to various environmental stresses, seashore paspalum has been introduced to golf courses in coastal regions of southern China. In April 2010, circular or irregular pink patches ranging from 5 to 50 cm in diameter were observed in the golf course fairway and rough established with cv. Salam on two golf courses in Haikou, Hainan Province, China. When morning dew was present or rainfall occurred, a pink layer of gelatinous fungal growth could be observed on leaves and sheaths. The green leaves of infected plants initially became water soaked, then tan to bleached, shriveled, and infested with pink or reddish, gelatinous, stranded hyphae. The hyphae matted together, then formed threadlike or antlerlike stromata from the tips of blighted leaves. Two isolates from each golf course were collected by plating diseased leaf blades, stromata, or hyphal aggregates from the blighted leaves directly onto antibiotic (0.01% gentamicin sulfate) amended potato dextrose agar. To confirm pathogenicity, isolates were inoculated on 6-week-old P. vaginatum (cv. Seaspray) planted (0.5 mg seed/cm–2) in 10-cm pots. Inoculum was prepared by culturing isolates separately on an autoclaved mixture of 100 g of rye grain and 20 ml of water for 3 weeks at 25°C. Pots were inoculated by placing 2 g of infected grain within the center of the turf canopy or 2 g of sterilized, uninfested grains to serve as controls, with four replications of each treatment. After inoculation, each pot was placed in a translucent plastic bag and placed into a greenhouse at 24 ± 2°C with a 12-h photoperiod (1). Two days after inoculation, the fungus was observed on the leaves. Approximately 40% of leaves in inoculated pots were necrotic after 7 days, and this increased to 80% after 21 days. Diseased plants in inoculated pots displayed symptoms similar to those observed in the field and no symptoms were detected on the control plants. The two isolates were successfully reisolated from all symptomatic tissues, completing Koch's postulates. Sequences of mitochondrial small subunit ribosomal RNA (mt-SSU) were amplified from the two isolates by primers MS1 and MS2, and the sequences showed 99% similarity with Laetisaria fuciformis from the NCBI database (Accession No. AY293232). Red thread on turfgrass has been commonly observed in temperate climates during periods of cool and humid weather (3). To our knowledge, this is the first report of L. fuciformis causing red thread on P. vaginatum or from any host plant in China.
References: (1) L. L. Burpee and L. G. Goulty. Phytopathology. 74:692, 1984. (2) R. R. Duncan and R. N. Carrow. Seashore Paspalum: The Environmental Turfgrass. John Wiley and Sons, Toronto, ON, Canada, 2000. (3) R. W. Smiley et al. Page 38 in: Compendium of Turfgrass Diseases. 3rd ed. The American Phytopathological Society, St. Paul, MN, 2005.