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Effects of Soil Temperature, Moisture, and Burial Depths on Carpogenic Germination of Sclerotinia sclerotiorum and S. minor


Extensive studies have been conducted on the carpogenic germination of Sclerotinia sclerotiorum, but carpogenic germination in S. minor has not been studied adequately. It remains unclear why apothecia of this pathogen have seldom been observed in nature. In this study, a new method was developed to produce apothecia in the absence of soil or sand, and carpogenic germination without preconditioning was recorded for 95 of the 96 S. sclerotiorum isolates tested. Carpogenic germination of the two species was compared under a variety of temperature, soil moisture, burial depths, and short periods of high temperature and low soil moisture. The optimal temperatures for rapid germination and for maximum germination rates were both lower for S. minor than for S. sclerotiorum. The temperature range for carpogenic germination was also narrower for S. minor than for S. sclerotiorum. A 5-day period at 30°C, either starting on the 10th or 20th day of incubation, did not significantly affect carpogenic germination of S. sclerotiorum. For both S. minor and S. sclerotiorum, the percentage of carpogenically germinated sclerotia increased as soil water potential increased from –0.3 to –0.01 MPa. In the greenhouse, a 10- or 20-day dry period completely arrested carpogenic germination of S. sclerotiorum, and new apothecia appeared after an interval of 35 days following rewetting, similar to the initial carpogenic germination regardless of when the dry period was imposed. In naturally infested fields, the number of sclerotia in 100 cc of soil decreased as depth increased from 0 to 10 cm before tillage, but became uniform between 0 and 10 cm after conventional tillage for both species. Most apothecia of S. minor were, however, produced from sclerotia located at a depth shallower than 0.5 cm while some apothecia of S. sclerotiorum were produced from sclerotia located as deep as 4 to 5 cm. These results provide the much needed information to assess the epidemiological roles of inoculum from sexual reproduction in diseases caused by the two Sclerotinia species in different geographical regions. However, more studies on effects of shorter and incompletely dry periods are still needed to predict production of apothecia of S. sclerotiorum in commercial fields under fluctuating soil temperature and moisture.

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