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Bermudagrass Dead Spot: A New Disease of Bermudagrass Caused by Ophiosphaerella agrostis

    Authors and Affiliations
    • J. P. Krausz , Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology, Texas A&M University, College Station 77843-2132
    • R. H. White , Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station 77843-2474
    • N. A. Tisserat , Department of Plant Pathology, Kansas State University, Manhattan 66506
    • P. H. Dernoeden , Department of Natural Resource Sciences and Landscape Architecture, University of Maryland, College Park 20742

      Hybrid bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers. × C. transvaalensis Burtt-Davy) is widely used on golf course putting greens in the southern United States. In March and April 1998, circular patches of dead grass 2 to 10 cm in diameter were observed on a bermudagrass putting green in College Station, TX, that had been overseeded with rough bluegrass (Poa trivialis L.) the previous October. Rapid death and deterioration of the rough bluegrass within the spot revealed extensive foliar and crown necrosis and root decay of the remaining bermudagrass. Diseased bermudagrass leaves in the patch were reddish brown to tan. Dark ectotrophic hyphae were not found on the roots or stolons, but dark hyphae were observed within the affected root tissues. Numerous pseudothecia were embedded in necrotic leaf and stolon tissues. The characteristics of the pseudothecia and ascospores coincide with the description of Ophiosphaerella agrostis Dernoeden, Camara, O'Neil, van Berkum, and Palm (1,2). This fungus was consistently isolated from stolons and roots, and single-ascospore isolates were obtained from pseudothecia. Inoculum was prepared by transferring fungal mycelium from a single-spore isolate grown in potato dextrose agar (PDA) to a moistened, autoclaved mixture of rice hulls (Oryza sativa L.) and milled rice (2:1, vol/vol) for 28 days at 24°C. ‘FloraDwarf’ bermudagrass was grown from stolons in 15-cm-diameter pots containing a mixture of sand, peat moss, and perlite (8:3:1, vol/vol). The bermudagrass was maintained at a height of 1 to 1.5 cm for ≈ 1 month. Plants were inoculated by forming a hole that was 0.8 cm in diameter and 7 cm deep in the center of the pot, using a rod and filling the hole with inoculum. Control pots received the same treatment, except uninoculated rice hull-milled rice mixture was used. The treatments were replicated three times, and the experiment was performed twice. The pots were maintained in a greenhouse for 6 weeks. In all inoculated pots, patches of dead bermudagrass 6 to 10 cm in diameter developed. Roots, stolons, and leaves were necrotic, and pseudothecia were abundant in stolon and leaf sheath tissues. O. agrostis was consistently reisolated from infected root and stolon tissues. All isolates produced colonies identical in appearance to the culture used for inoculation. To our knowledge, this is the first report that O. agrostis is pathogenic to hybrid bermudagrass.

      References: (1) M. P. S. Camara et al. Mycologia 92:317, 2000. (2) P. H. Dernoeden et al. Plant Dis. 83:397, 1999.