University of Florida, Citrus Research and Education Center, 700 Experiment Station Road, Lake Alfred 33850
Mycosphaerella citri, the cause of citrus greasy spot, produces pseudothecia and ascospores in decomposing leaf litter on the grove floor. In laboratory studies, the effect of wetting and drying and temperature on the formation, maturation, and production of pseudothecia and ascospores was evaluated on mature, detached grapefruit leaves. Production of pseudothecia was most rapid when leaves were soaked five times per week for 2 h per day, but pseudothecial density and total ascospore production were greatest when leaves were soaked three times per week for 2 h per day. In duration of wetting studies, 3 h per day, 3 days per week brought about the most rapid production, but 10 to 30 min per day resulted in production of the most pseudothecia and ascospores. Pseudothecia and ascospore production were greatest at 28°C and declined rapidly at lower and higher temperatures. Maturation of pseudothecia was slow at 20 and 24°C, but production was high at 24°C; at 32°C, pseudothecia matured rapidly, but degenerated quickly. No mature pseudothecia were produced on leaves maintained continuously under wet conditions. In field studies, leaves were placed on the grove floor monthly from April 2000 to September 2001. Pseudothecia production was rapid during the summer rainy season from June to September. Pseudothecia produced on leaves placed in the grove from October to May developed and matured more slowly but were produced in much larger numbers than in summer. The number of days to first pseudothecial initials, 50% maturation, first discharge of ascospores, leaf decomposition, as well as pseudothecial density and incidence, were negatively related to average temperature. Total ascospore production was unrelated to temperature.