In late June and early July 2002, stunted, chlorotic, and partially defoliated lentils (Lens culinaris Medik.) were observed throughout the lentil-growing areas of eastern Washington. These symptoms were investigated in two fields near Garfield, WA and one field near Genesee, ID. Cv. Mason was more affected than cv. Brewer. Roots were dry and brittle with black discoloration in some cases. Isolates of Fusarium oxysporum and F. solani were obtained from washed roots plated on water agar, but they were nonpathogenic in greenhouse testing in pasteurized field soil and peat-based growing mixes. On 21 April 2003, volunteer lentils growing in the same fields showed symptoms of root rot, and Pythium oospores were observed in the roots. Pythium spp. were isolated by using a selective medium (2). Oospores were aplerotic, intercalary, 12.6 to 21 μm long × 11.2 to 18.2 μm wide, mostly smooth, and often formed in chains. Isolates resembled P. paroecandrum Drechs. and P. irregulare Buisman on the basis of morphological characters (3), but DNA sequences of the internal transcribed spacer region were closer to P. irregulare on the basis of a comparison with a worldwide database of Pythium sequences (C. A. Lévesque, personal communication). Isolates were deposited with the USDA-ARS Western Regional Plant Introduction Station, Pullman, WA. Four hyphal-tip isolates were tested in the greenhouse with inoculum grown in autoclaved sandy loam amended with 1% ground rolled oats. Experiments were performed twice in Thatuna silt loam, first in pasteurized and then in nonpasteurized soil. Inoculum was added to the soil at 500 CFU/g, and seeds were planted on the same day. Each isolate was tested on cvs. Brewer and Mason, with five replicates per treatment. Plants were grown in 4- × 20.5-cm plastic tubes (two plants per tube) for 1 month at 16 to 22°C and supplemented with 14 h of light per day. P. irregulare was reisolated from infected roots in both experiments. Damping-off, stunting, chlorosis, and root rot were observed in the Pythium-inoculated treatments, which corresponded to symptoms observed in the field in 2002. In pasteurized soil, only one isolate reduced the whole, dry, plant weight of Brewer, but the other three isolates reduced the dry weight of Mason. All isolates reduced the root dry weight of Mason in natural soil, but only two isolates reduced the root dry weight of Brewer. To our knowledge, Pythium spp., but not P. irregulare, have been reported previously from lentils (1). P. irregulare also causes root rot on winter wheat, which is rotated with lentils, and this pathogen likely causes yield reduction in both crops.
References: (1) D. F. Farr et al. Fungi on Plants and Plant Products in the United States. The American Phytopathological Society, St. Paul, MN, 1989. (2) S. M. Mircetich and J. M. Kraft. Mycopathol. Mycol. Appl. 50:151, 1973. (3) A. J. van der Plaats-Niterink. Stud. Mycol. 21:1, 1981.