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Afternoon Ascospore Release in Claviceps purpurea Optimizes Perennial Ryegrass Infection

Alderman, Stephen C., Walenta, Darrin L., Hamm, Philip B., Martin, Ruth C., Dung, Jeremiah, Kosman, Evsey
Plant disease 2015 v.99 no.10 pp. 1410-1415
Claviceps purpurea, Lolium perenne, Poa pratensis, ascospores, biological resistance, environmental factors, ergot, flowering, internal transcribed spacers, plant ovary, random amplified polymorphic DNA technique, sclerotia, Oregon
In Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis), Claviceps purpurea, the causal agent of ergot, typically releases ascospores during the early-morning hours, between about midnight and 10:00 a.m., corresponding to time of flowering, when the unfertilized ovaries are most susceptible to infection. During aeromycology studies of C. purpurea in perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne) in northeastern Oregon during 2008 to 2010 and 2013, a strain of C. purpurea was found that released ascospores in the afternoon, coinciding with flowering in perennial ryegrass. Under controlled environmental conditions, sclerotia from perennial ryegrass and Kentucky bluegrass released spores in the afternoon and morning, respectively, consistent with timing of spore release under field conditions. Internal transcribed spacer (ITS) sequences of single sclerotial isolates from Kentucky bluegrass and perennial ryegrass were consistent with C. purpurea, although minor variations in ITS sequences among isolates were noted. Differences between Kentucky bluegrass and perennial ryegrass isolates were observed in random amplified polymorphic DNA. Evidence is provided for adaptation of C. purpurea to perennial ryegrass by means of delayed spore release that coincides with afternoon flowering in perennial ryegrass.