David M. Gadoury,
Laura M. Wakefield,
Ian B. Dry, and
Robert C. Seem
First, second, and fifth authors: Department of Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology, Cornell University, New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, Geneva 14456; third author: United States Department of Agriculture–Agricultural Research Service Grape Genetics Research Unit, New York State Agricultural Experiment Station; and fourth author: Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Plant Industry, Urrbrae, SA 5064, Australia.
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Accepted for publication 9 August 2011.
Initiation of asexual sporulation in powdery mildews is preceded by a period of superficial vegetative growth of mildew colonies. We found evidence of a quorum-sensing signal in Erysiphe necator that was promulgated at the colony center and stimulated conidiation throughout the colony. Removal of the colony center after putative signal promulgation had no impact upon timing of sporulation by 48-h-old hyphae at the colony margin. However, removal of the colony center before signaling nearly doubled the latent period. A relationship between inoculum density and latent period was also observed, with latent period decreasing as the number of conidia deposited per square millimeter was increased. The effect was most pronounced at the lowest inoculum densities, with little decrease of the latent period as the density of inoculation increased above 10 spores/mm. Furthermore, light was shown to be necessary to initiate conidiation of sporulation-competent colonies. When plants were inoculated and maintained in a day-and-night cycle for 36 h but subjected to darkness after 36 h, colonies kept in darkness failed to sporulate for several days after plants kept in light had sporulated. Once returned to light, the dark-suppression was immediately reversed, and sporulation commenced within 12 h. Merging of colonies of compatible mating types resulted in near-cessation of sporulation, both in the region of merging and in more distant parts of the colonies. Colonies continued to expand but stopped producing new conidiophores once pairing of compatible mating types had occurred, and extant conidiophores stopped producing new conidia. Therefore, in addition to a quorum-sensing signal to initiate conidiation, there appears to be either signal repression or another signal that causes conidiation to cease once pairing has occurred and the pathogen has initiated the ascigerous stage for overwintering.
© 2012 The American Phytopathological Society