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Identification and pathogenicity of Fusarium species associated with pokkah boeng of sugarcane in Brazil

Costa, M. M., Melo, M. P., Guimarães, E. A., Veiga, C. M. O., Carmo Sandin, F., Moreira, G. M., Costa, S. S., Pfenning, L. H.
Plant pathology 2019 v.68 no.7 pp. 1350-1360
Fusarium fujikuroi, Fusarium proliferatum, Saccharum, aerial parts, ascospores, breeding programs, chlorosis, corn, death, deformation, etiology, fungi, germplasm, hybrids, leaf area, leaves, millets, monitoring, necrosis, pathogenicity, perithecia, phylogeny, plantations, stem rot, sugarcane, Brazil
Brazil is the world’s biggest producer of sugarcane (Saccharum spp. hybrids). Pokkah boeng is an important fungal disease in this crop caused by members of the Fusarium fujikuroi species complex (FFSC) and characterized by deformation of the aerial part of the plant and stem rot. While the occurrence of symptoms has been reported in plantations in Brazil, no official reports of the disease exist. In this study, species of the FFSC were identified that are associated with sugarcane plants with symptoms of pokkah boeng in Brazil. This was achieved using two‐loci molecular phylogeny, sexual compatibility and analysis of morphological markers. The ability of strains to cause disease in plants of sugarcane, maize, sorghum and millet was also evaluated. The 39 isolates studied were identified as F. sacchari, F. proliferatum and another, still unknown, phylogenetic lineage that is sister to F. andiyazi. Crossing field isolates of F. sacchari and F. proliferatum with their respective tester strains produced fertile perithecia and viable ascospores. All three species induced symptoms of pokkah boeng on inoculated sugarcane plants and caused stem rot in maize, sorghum and millet. Symptoms on sugarcane are chlorosis and necrosis of leaves, punctured lesions, twisted leaves, reduction of the total leaf area, death of the top of the plant and stalk rot. The findings confirmed the aetiology of the disease in Brazil, generated basic knowledge for the development of strategies for diagnosis and monitoring of the disease and support breeding programmes for selecting resistant germplasm.