Sandbur (Cenchrus incertus Curtis) is a warm-season, annual, noxious, grassy weed native to southern North America. It is common in sandy, disturbed soils and can also be found in home lawns and sport fields where low turf density facilitates its establishment. In July 2013, after a period of frequent rainfall and heavy dew, symptoms of dollar spot-like lesions (1) were observed on sandbur plants growing in a mixed stand of turf-type and native warm-season grasses in Logan County, Oklahoma. Lesions, frequently associated with leaf sheaths, were tan and surrounded by a dark margin. Symptomatic leaves were surface sterilized and plated on potato dextrose agar amended with 10 ppm rifampicin, 250 ppm ampicillin, and 5 ppm fenpropathrin. After incubation, a fungus morphologically identical to Sclerotinia homoeocarpa Bennett was consistently isolated. The nuclear ribosomal internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region of two different isolates, SCL2 and SCL3, were amplified using primers ITS4 and ITS5 (2). The DNA products were sequenced and BLAST analyses were used to compare sequences with those in GenBank. The sequence for isolate SLC2 was 869 bp, contained a type I intron in the 18S small subunit rDNA, and was identical to accession EU123803. The ITS sequence for isolate SLC3 was 535 bp and identical to accession EU123802. Twenty-five-day-old seedlings of C. incertus were inoculated by placing 5-mm-diameter agar plugs, colonized by mycelia of each S. homoeocarpa isolate, onto two of the plants' leaves. Plugs were held in place with Parafilm. Two plants were inoculated with each isolate and sterile agar plugs were placed on two leaves of another seedling as control. Plants were incubated in a dew chamber at 20°C and a 12-h photoperiod. After 3 days of incubation, water-soaked lesions surrounded by a dark margin appeared on inoculated plants only. Fungi that were later identified as S. homoeocarpa isolates SLC2 and SLC3 by sequencing of the ITS region were re-isolated from symptomatic leaves, fulfilling Koch's postulates. To our knowledge, this is the first report of dollar spot on sandbur.
References: (1) R. W. Smiley et al. Page 22 in: Compendium of Turfgrass Diseases. 3rd ed. The American Phytopathological Society, St. Paul, MN, 2005. (2) T. J. White et al. Page 315 in: PCR Protocols: A Guide to Methods and Applications. Academic Press, San Diego, CA, 1990.
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