Department of Plant Pathology, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park 16802
United States Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service, Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, Beltsville, MD 20705
Sixty-seven isolates of Sclerotinia homoeocarpa, causing dollar spot disease in creeping bentgrass, annual bluegrass, Bermudagrass, and perennial ryegrass turf, collected from 23 golf courses in various geographical regions of the United States and Canada between 1972 and 2001, were characterized by vegetative compatibility, genetic diversity, and pathogenicity. Eleven vegetative compatibility groups (VCGs A to K) were identified among the isolates tested in this study, and five of them (VCGs G to K) were new. VCG B was the most predominant group, typifying 33 isolates (51%) tested. S. homoeocarpa isolates collected from golf courses in Pennsylvania belonged to seven VCGs (A, B, E, F, G, I, and K), whereas three groups were observed in those collected from New York (B, E, and G) and New Jersey (E, H, and I). Two isolates, one each from Pennsylvania and Canada, were incompatible when paired with the tester isolates in all possible combinations, and did not fall into any known VCG. An isolate collected from Canada was compatible with tester isolates from two VCGs (C and D). Genetic analyses using amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) showed the presence of two genetically distinct groups, designated as major group and the minor group. The major group included 36 isolates collected from various golf courses in the United States and Canada. Two isolates collected from bermudagrass in Florida formed a separate cluster, the minor group. Isolates that belonged to the major group were further divided into two subgroups (1 and 2). Subgroup 1 consisted of all the isolates that belonged to VCGs A, E, G, H, and I. Three of the four isolates that belonged to VCG K also were clustered with isolates of subgroup 1. Subgroup 2 consisted of all the isolates from VCG B, and one each from VCGs F and K. Pathogenicity assays on Penncross creeping bentgrass showed significant differences (P = 0.05) in virulence among the isolates. Overall, a relationship between virulence and VCGs was observed, in which certain virulence groups corresponded to specific VCGs; however, such a relationship was not observed between virulence and AFLPs. Close similarity among isolates of S. homoeocarpa collected from different locations in the United States and Canada suggests that isolates of the same genotype could be involved in outbreaks of dollar spot epidemics at multiple locations.