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First Report of Sclerotinia sclerotiorum on Niger (Guizotia abyssinica)

Bradley, C.A., del Rio, L.E., Johnson, B.L.
Plant disease 2003 v.87 no.5 pp. 602
Guizotia abyssinica, Helianthus annuus, Sclerotinia sclerotiorum, agar, air drying, basal area, beans, canola, crops, disease outbreaks, fungi, inoculum, markets, mycelium, pathogenicity, petioles, pith, plant pathology, sclerotia, seedlings, soybeans, stem rot, stems, straw, Minnesota, Niger, North Dakota
Niger is a new crop being grown in North Dakota and Minnesota for the commercial birdseed market. In 2002, approximately 60 and 150 ha of niger were grown in North Dakota and Minnesota, respectively. In September 2002, niger plants in a field located near Prosper, ND showed the following symptoms and signs: bleached, shredded, and broken stems at the basal area, and presence of white mycelium and black sclerotia (2.2 ± 0.8 mm diameter) inside the pith cavity. Approximately 40% of plants in that field showed signs or symptoms of infection. Sclerotia were collected from the pith cavity, soaked in a 0.53% NaOCL solution for 30 s, air dried, and placed in petri dishes containing potato dextrose agar (PDA). A fungal colony grew out from the plated sclerotia that subsequently produced aerial white mycelium and black sclerotia characteristic of Sclerotinia sclerotiorum (Lib.) de Bary. To confirm pathogenicity, 2 groups of 10 30-day-old niger seedlings each were inoculated using the straw test method (2) or petiole inoculation test method (1) with mycelium from a S. sclerotiorum isolate obtained from an infected niger plant; 20 seedlings served as a noninoculated control. At the time of inoculation, seedlings were healthy and approximately 14 cm high. Three days after inoculation using either method, tissue at the inoculated area turned gray. The gray lesions progressed across the majority of the seedling tissue and 1 week after inoculation, all inoculated plants were wilted and dead. S. sclerotiorum was reisolated from infected tissue that was placed on PDA. To our knowledge, this is the first report of S. sclerotiorum causing a stem rot disease of niger or any species in the Guizotia genus. Several of the major crops grown in North Dakota and Minnesota, such as canola, dry edible bean, soybean, and sunflower are susceptible to S. sclerotiorum. Growing niger in rotation with these or other susceptible crops could increase S. sclerotiorum inoculum levels and lead to severe disease outbreaks if conditions are favorable.