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Phyllachora maydis Ascospore Release and Germination from Overwintered Corn Residue

C. L. Groves, N. M. Kleczewski, D. E. P. Telenko, M. I. Chilvers, and D. L. Smith

January 2020

Research

Tar spot of corn, caused by Phyllachora maydis, has been reported in several upper Midwest states in the United States. This has led to expanded efforts to more thoroughly understand the biology of P. maydis and the epidemiology of tar spot. This study determined the potential for P. maydis ascospore release and germination from overwintered P. maydis-infected corn residues from various locations in the upper Midwest. Corn residue samples collected in the spring of 2019 from 12 fields in four states were examined. Ascospore release and germination were observed in all residue samples collected. The mean total number of ascospores released per milliliter of water ranged from 3.6 × 103 to 4.8 × 106 after 4-h incubation and 3.7 × 103 to 4.4 × 106 after 24-h incubation. The mean percent spore germination ranged from 0.7 to 24.1% after 4-h incubation and 2.4 to 24.9% after 24-h incubation. There was a significant inverse relationship between total numbers of ascospores released and the percent germination of the ascospores. Samples from Illinois consistently yielded the greatest total ascospore release but were also consistently among the samples with the lowest percent ascospore germination. Samples from Wisconsin and Indiana were among the lowest for total ascospore numbers but were among the highest for total ascospore germination. These findings provide evidence that P. maydis can overwinter in multiple areas of the upper Midwest. Future research should focus on reducing infested corn residue to reduce initial infection by P. maydis.

doi:10.1094/PHP-10-19-0077-RS

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