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Dead or alive? A new test to determine viability of soybean rust spores
Date:12/11/2012

URBANA Spores from Asian soybean rust (Phakopsora pachyrhizi) pose a serious threat to soybean production in the United States because they can be blown great distances by the wind. University of Illinois researchers have developed a method to determine whether these spores are viable.

"Finding spores is different from finding spores that are living and able to infect plants," said USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientist and crop sciences professor Glen Hartman.

Soybean rust, which first appeared in Japan at the beginning of the 20th century, is a foliar infector that reduces plant photosynthetic activity and causes defoliation, premature death, and high yield loss. An obligate pathogen, it grows only on plants and dies when the plant dies or is harvested.

The fungus first appeared In the U.S. in 2004. It is concentrated in the southern states where it is able to overwinter on kudzu. Spraying with fungicides is the only way to control it because resistant soybean cultivars are not yet available to U.S. farmers.

To monitor the spread of the disease, researchers established a network of sentinel plots in 2005 (see http://sbr.ipmpipe.org/cgi-bin/sbr/public.cgi). Traps in these plots capture airborne spores and can serve as an early warning system for farmers. However, spores that travel long distances are often not viable. There have been many instances where spores have been found in the traps, but rust has not appeared in the fields.

Up to now, because farmers have had no way to determine if the captured spores are dead or alive, they have been faced with a dilemma. They know that spraying too little or too late can lead to yield loss, so they may decide to spray immediately. This raises their costs, damages crop quality, and poses risks to human health and the environment. Spraying can also accelerate the development of fu
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Contact: Susan Jongeneel
sjongene@illinois.edu
217-333-3291
University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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