First and second authors: Department of Natural Resource Sciences and Landscape Architecture, University of Maryland, College Park 20742; and third author: U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service, Beltsville, MD 20705
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Accepted for publication on 25 July 2005.
Ophiosphaerella agrostis, the causal agent of dead spot of creeping bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera), can produce prodigious numbers of pseudothecia and ascospores throughout the summer. The environmental conditions and seasonal timings associated with O. agrostis ascospore release are unknown. The objectives of this research were to (i) determine the influence of light and relative humidity on ascospore release in a controlled environment, (ii) document the seasonal and daily discharge patterns of ascospores in the field, and (iii) elucidate environmental conditions that promote ascospore release under field conditions. In a growth chamber, a sharp decrease (100 to ≈50%; 25°C) in relative humidity resulted in a rapid (1- to 3-h) discharge of ascospores, regardless of whether pseudothecia were incubated in constant light or dark. In the field, daily ascospore release increased between 1900 and 2300 h and again between 0700 and 1000 h local time. The release of ascospores occurred primarily during the early morning hours when relative humidity was decreasing and the canopy began to dry, or during evening hours when relative humidity was low and dew began to form. Few ascospores were released between 1100 and 1800 h when the bentgrass canopy was dry. The release of ascospores also was triggered by precipitation. Of the ascospores collected during precipitation events, 87% occurred within 10 h of the beginning of each event.
© 2005 The American Phytopathological Society