All authors: Department of Crop Sciences; University of Illinois, Urbana 61801; and fourth author: United States Department of Agriculture–Agricultural Research Services, Urbana, IL 61801.
Soybean rust, caused by the fungus Phakopsora pachyrhizi, is an economically important disease of soybean with potential to cause severe epidemics resulting in significant yield losses. Host resistance is one of the management tools to control this disease. This study compared soybean genotypes exhibiting immunity, complete and incomplete resistance, and susceptibility to an isolate of P. pachyrhizi based on visual assessment of reaction type, other visual traits such as sporulation, quantitative measurements of the amount of fungal DNA (FDNA) present in leaf tissues, and data on infection and colonization levels. Soybean genotype UG5 (immune), and plant introduction (PI) 567102B and PI 567104B (complete resistance) had lower quantities of uredinia and FDNA than four other genotypes with incomplete resistance. Based on microscopic observations, early events of spore germination, appressorium formation, and fungal penetration of the epidermis occurred within 24 h postinoculation and were similar among the tested soybean genotypes. Differences in infection among the genotypes were evident once the hyphae penetrated into the intercellular spaces between the mesophyll cells. At 2 days after inoculation (dai), soybean genotype Williams 82 had a significantly (P < 0.05) higher percentage of hyphae in the mesophyll tissue than other soybean genotypes, with UG5 having significantly (P < 0.05) lower percentages than all of the other soybean genotypes at 3, 4, and 5 dai. The percentage of interaction sites with mesophyll cell death was significantly (P < 0.05) higher in UG5 than other genotypes at 3, 4, and 5 dai. There was a significant positive correlation (r = 0.30, P < 0.001) between quantities of hyphae in the mesophyll cells and FDNA. These results demonstrated that incompatible soybean–P. pachyrhizi interaction results in restricted hyphal development in mesophyll cell tissue, likely due to hypersensitive apoptosis.