Fusarium spp. are widespread soilborne pathogens that cause important soybean diseases such as damping-off, root rot, Fusarium wilt, and sudden death syndrome. At least 12 species of Fusarium, including F. proliferatum, have been associated with soybean roots, but their relative aggressiveness as root rot pathogens is not known and pathogenicity has not been established for all reported species (2). In collaboration with 12 Iowa State University extension specialists, soybean roots were arbitrarily sampled from three fields in each of 98 Iowa counties from 2007 to 2009. Ten plants were collected from each field at V2-V3 and R3-R4 growth stages (2). Typical symptoms of Fusarium root rot (2) were observed. Symptomatic and asymptomatic root pieces were superficially sterilized in 0.5% NaOCl for 2 min, rinsed three times in sterile distilled water, and placed onto a Fusarium selective medium. Fusarium colonies were transferred to carnation leaf agar (CLA) and potato dextrose agar and later identified to species based on cultural and morphological characteristics. Of 1,230 Fusarium isolates identified, 50 were recognized as F. proliferatum based on morphological characteristics (3). F. proliferatum isolates produced abundant, aerial, white mycelium and a violet-to-dark purple pigmentation characteristic of Fusarium section Liseola. On CLA, microconidia were abundant, single celled, oval, and in chains on monophialides and polyphialides (3). Species identity was confirmed for two isolates by sequencing of the elongation factor (EF1-α) gene using the ef1 and ef2 primers (1). Identities of the resulting sequences (~680 bp) were confirmed by BLAST analysis and the FUSARIUM-ID database. Analysis resulted in a 99% match for five accessions of F. proliferatum (e.g., FD01389 and FD01858). To complete Koch's postulates, four F. proliferatum isolates were tested for pathogenicity on soybean in a greenhouse. Soybean seeds of cv. AG2306 were planted in cones (150 ml) in autoclaved soil infested with each isolate; Fusarium inoculum was applied by mixing an infested cornmeal/sand mix with soil prior to planting (4). Noninoculated control plants were grown in autoclaved soil amended with a sterile cornmeal/sand mix. Soil temperature was maintained at 18 ± 1°C by placing cones in water baths. The experiment was a completely randomized design with five replicates (single plant in a cone) per isolate and was repeated three times. Root rot severity (visually scored on a percentage scale), shoot dry weight, and root dry weight were assessed at the V3 soybean growth stage. All F. proliferatum isolates tested were pathogenic. Plants inoculated with these isolates were significantly different from the control plants in root rot severity (P = 0.001) and shoot (P = 0.023) and root (P = 0.013) dry weight. Infected plants showed dark brown lesions in the root system as well as decay of the entire taproot. F. proliferatum was reisolated from symptomatic root tissue of infected plants but not from similar tissues of control plants. To our knowledge, this is the first report of F. proliferatum causing root rot on soybean in the United States.
References: (1) D. M. Geiser et al. Eur. J. Plant Pathol. 110:473, 2004. (2) G. L. Hartman et al. Compendium of Soybean Diseases. 4th ed. The American Phytopathologic Society, St. Paul, MN, 1999. (3) J. F. Leslie and B. A. Summerell. The Fusarium Laboratory Manual. Blackwell Publishing, Oxford, UK, 2006. (4) G. P. Munkvold and J. K. O'Mara. Plant Dis. 86:143, 2002.