Instituto de Investigaciones Agropecuarias, Centro Regional de Investigación Carillanca, Casilla 58-D, Temuco, Chile
The fungus Thecaphora solani (syn.: Angiosorus solani), the causal agent of potato smut, was cultivated in vitro for the first time. Teliospores obtained from galls of infected potato plants were used to inoculate commonly used solid and liquid media. The teliospores produced two kinds of vegetative tissue depending on the nutrient status of the media. A very slow radial-growing, hyaline, and septate mycelium, as usually seen in most of the in vitro-cultivated filamentous fungi, was obtained in wateragar medium after 30 to 40 days. On the other hand, a white, sponge-like mycelial mass was obtained in HCM + 1% activated charcoal, and on common potato dextrose agar or malt-yeast-peptone solid or liquid media, after 40 to 50 days under lab conditions. The identity among teliospores and the sponge-like mycelial mass was corroborated by DNA fingerprinting and partial sequencing of the large subunit (LSU) rDNA region. The sexual cycle of the pathogen was completed under lab conditions based on the development of teliospores on the sponge-like mycelial mass. The first attempt to reproduce the disease under controlled conditions was successful, inducing a gall in a cv. Desirée potato explant cultivated in vitro inoculated with radial-growing mycelia. Phylogenetic analysis of LSU rDNA data of the genus Thecaphora and other smut fungi confirmed the initial classification of the pathogen as T. solani.