Eight species of fungus cause root rot in South Dakota corn

phys.org | 6/26/2019 | Staff
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An invisible enemy is attacking South Dakota corn.

The crop may look fine above ground, but as many as eight species of a common soil fungus may be infecting the roots—and compromising yields, according to South Dakota State University plant disease experts.

Research - Associate - Paul - Okello - Department

Research associate Paul Okello of the Department of Agronomy, Horticulture and Plant Science identified eight Fusarium species that cause root rot in South Dakota cornfields as part of his doctoral research. Furthermore, seven Fusarium species isolated from corn also cause disease in soybeans.

This is the first time South Dakota researchers have identified the pathogens causing root rot of corn in the state, according to Field Crops Pathologist Febina Mathew, an assistant professor in the Department of Agronomy, Horticulture and Plant Science. "The number of species can vary from region to region, but eight species have been identified in South Dakota," Okello said.

Fusarium - Species - Host - Range - Soybean

Fusarium species have a broad host range, which includes soybean, sunflowers and small grains, such as wheat, consequently the pathogen can affect crops that are commonly rotated with corn," said Mathew, who was Okello's research adviser. "Our research on Fusarium root rot of corn will help us work with breeders to develop resistant varieties and with chemical companies to test the efficacy of seed treatments that target these specific pathogens."

The May 2019 issue of Plant Health Progress, a journal published by the American Phytopathological Society, featured two articles on the research. The article identifying the Fusarium species causing corn root rot received the Editor's Pick Award. Okello was first author on both papers.

Corn - Research - US - Department - Agriculture

The corn research was supported by U.S. Department of Agriculture Hatch Act funding through the South Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station. The soybean work was funded by the South Dakota Soybean Research and Promotion Council and the North Central Soybean Research Program.

While identifying species of Fusarium causing root...
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