First, third, and fourth authors: Department of Plant Pathology and Crop Physiology, Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, Baton Rouge 70803; second author: Department of Biological Sciences, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge 70803
To investigate host specialization in Macrophomina phaseolina, the fungus was isolated from soybean, corn, sorghum, and cotton root tissue and soil from fields cropped continuously to these species for 15 years in St. Joseph, LA. Chlorate phenotype of each isolate was determined after growing on a minimal medium containing 120 mM potassium chlorate. Consistent differences in chlorate sensitivity were detected among isolates from different hosts and from soil versus root. To further explore genetic differentiation among fungal isolates from each host, these isolates were examined by restriction fragment length polymorphism and random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) analysis. No variations were observed among isolates in restriction patterns of DNA fragments amplified by polymerase chain reaction covering the internal transcribed spacer region, 5.8S rRNA and part of 25S rRNA, suggesting that M. phaseolina constitutes a single species. Ten random primers were used to amplify the total DNA of 45 isolates, and banding patterns resulting from RAPD analysis were compared with the neighbor-joining method. Isolates from a given host were genetically similar to each other but distinctly different from those from other hosts. Chlorate-sensitive isolates were distinct from chlorate-resistant isolates within a given host. In greenhouse tests, soybean, sorghum, corn, and cotton were grown separately in soil infested with individual isolates of M. phaseolina that were chosen based on their host of origin and chlorate phenotype. Root colonization and plant weight were measured after harvesting. More colonization of corn roots occurred when corn was grown in soil containing corn isolates compared with isolates from other hosts. However, there was no host specialization in isolates from soybean, sorghum, or cotton. More root colonization in soybean occurred with chlorate-sensitive than with chlorate-resistant isolates.