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Spatial and Temporal Patterns of Aspergillus flavus Strain Composition and Propagule Density in Yuma County, Arizona, Soils

August 1997 , Volume 81 , Number  8
Pages  911 - 916

Thomas V. Orum , Donna M. Bigelow , and Merritt R. Nelson , Department of Plant Pathology, University of Arizona, Tucson 85721 ; Donald R. Howell , Cooperative Extension Service, University of Arizona, Yuma 85364 ; and Peter J. Cotty , Southern Regional Research Center, USDA, ARS, New Orleans, LA 70179

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Accepted for publication 24 April 1997.

Aspergillus flavus isolates from Arizona can be divided into S and L strains on the basis of sclerotial morphology. These genetically distinct strains differ in aflatoxin production. To help understand factors influencing the aflatoxin producing potential of A. flavus communities, spatial and temporal patterns of strain incidence were compared with patterns of A. flavus propagule density in Yuma County soils. Strain S isolates were found in all sampled fields, but the percentage of strain S isolates ranged from 4 to 93%. A nested analysis of variance was used to determine the spatial scale at which most variability in strain composition and propagule density occurred. For both variables, the largest component of variance occurred among fields within areas at a spatial scale of 1 to 5 km. There was also spatial structure (12 to 21% of the variance) at the subregional level (> 20 km) in strain composition, but not in propagule density. Temporal patterns for both variables were similar. The sampling periods with the highest incidence of strain S isolates, August 1994 (60%) and July 1995 (62%), occurred during cotton boll formation. The regional average for A. flavus propagule density was near 1000 propagules/g in the summer, but less than 100 propagules/g in the spring. The results suggest that insights into factors influencing the toxigenicity and propagule density of A. flavus communities might be achieved most readily by contrasting fields in close spatial proximity.

Additional keywords: geographic information systems, geostatistics, GIS

© 1997 The American Phytopathological Society