Department of Crop Sciences, University of Illinois, Urbana 61801
United States Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS), MWA Biometrician, Peoria, IL
USDA-ARS and Department of Crop Sciences, National Soybean Research Center, University of Illinois, Urbana
Population variability of Sclerotinia sclerotiorum, the causal organism of Sclerotinia stem rot of soybean, was determined by mycelial compatibility grouping (MCG) and isolate aggressiveness comparisons. MCG and aggressiveness of S. sclerotiorum isolates from diverse hosts and geographic locations (Diverse Set, 24 isolates), from a soybean field in Argentina (Argentine Set, 21 isolates), and from soybean fields in DeKalb and Watseka, Illinois (DeKalb Set, 124 isolates, and Watseka Set, 130 isolates) were assessed. Among 299 isolates tested, 42 MCGs were identified, and 61% were represented by single isolates observed at single locations. Within the Diverse Set, 17 MCGs were identified; 1 MCG consisted of six isolates, and 16 MCGs consisted of one isolate each. Nine MCGs were identified within the Argentine field with two MCGs composed of either five or six isolates, two MCGs composed of two isolates, and the remaining composed of one isolate each. Each Illinois field was a mosaic of MCGs, but MCG frequencies differed between the two fields. Common MCGs were identified among the Diverse, DeKalb, and Watseka Sets, but no MCGs within the Argentine Set were observed with other sets. MCG 8 was the most frequently sampled and widely dispersed MCG and occurred at a frequency of 29, 36, and 62% in the Diverse, DeKalb, and Watseka Sets, respectively. Variation in isolate aggressiveness was assessed using a limited-term, plug inoculation technique. Isolate aggressiveness varied (P = 0.001) within the Diverse, Argentine, DeKalb, and Watseka Sets. Within widely dispersed MCGs, isolate aggressiveness varied (P ≤ 0.10); however, within locally observed MCGs detected only in single fields, isolate aggressiveness did not vary. Additionally, individual MCGs within the DeKalb and Watseka Sets differed in isolate aggressiveness. Using six soybean cultivars and six S. sclerotiorum isolates, no cultivar-isolate interaction was detected, but resistant and susceptible cultivars performed similarly when inoculated with either less or highly aggressive isolates. Pathogen population structure and variability in isolate aggressiveness may be important considerations in disease management systems.