S. J. Kammerer, Department of Plant Pathology, University of Florida, Gainesville 32611-0680;
L. L. Burpee, Department of Plant Pathology, University of Georgia, Georgia Experiment Station, Griffin 30223; and
P. F. Harmon, Department of Plant Pathology, University of Florida, Gainesville
Seashore paspalum (Paspalum vaginatum) is a saline-tolerant, warm-season turfgrass species popular for golf course use in tropical and subtropical climates. A new variety of Waitea circinata (proposed as W. circinata var. prodigus) is described as the causal agent of basal leaf blight, a novel disease of seashore paspalum. Foliar necrosis and canopy thinning of seashore paspalum were observed on three different golf course fairways in Florida over an 18-month period. Five isolates with profuse, pink to yellow mycelia and small, salmon-colored or yellow to light-brown sclerotia were cultured from diseased turf foliage. Isolates grew rapidly over a temperature range of 25 to 35°C and were initially identified as an uncharacterized variety of W. circinata. Internal transcribed spacer sequences of rDNA from the isolates were compared with sequences from previously described W. circinata varieties. The paspalum isolates formed a phylogenetic clade that was distinct from the other W. circinata varieties. Pathogenicity was confirmed on ‘SeaDwarf’ and ‘SeaIsle Supreme’ seashore paspalum, ‘Penncross’ creeping bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera), ‘Senesta’ bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon), and ‘Dark Horse’ roughstalk bluegrass (Poa trivialis). The geographical distribution and potential impact of basal leaf blight is unknown. However, the range of potential turfgrass hosts and environmental conditions conducive for disease development suggest that the pathogen may infect other species in addition to seashore paspalum.