Fungi collection key in identifying diseases

July 30, 2013
Fungi collection key in identifying diseases
ARS' U.S. National Fungus Collections helped identify the fungal culprit in anthracnose disease in grass in the southern United States. Photo courtesy of Jeff Sexton, Madisonville Country Club, Bugwood.org

A collection of fungi maintained by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) played a crucial role in helping scientists identify the specific fungus causing an anthracnose disease discovered in a southern turf grass, and another fungus destroying trees of edible fruits in Honduras.

Scientists with USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) maintain the U.S. National Fungus Collections, North America's largest collection of fungi. The collection is curated by ARS biologist Shannon Dominick. ARS is USDA's chief intramural scientific research agency, and this research supports the USDA priority of promoting international food security.

According to Amy Rossman, research leader of the ARS Systematic Mycology and Microbiology Laboratory (SMML) in Beltsville, Md., the collection started with fewer than 3,000 specimens in 1885 and has grown to more than 1 million reference specimens.

ARS JoAnne Crouch of SMML identified the fungal culprit of anthracnose disease in centipedegrass in the southern United States. While many in the industry suspected a fungus called Colletotrichum sublineola, Crouch found that a different but related , C. eremochloae, was the cause. Finding the correct suspect allows managers to use the proper fungicide to control the disease.

Another fungus has caused problems for two tropical plants that produce edible fruits—rambutan and pulasan—in Honduras. A little known fungus, Dolabra nepheliae, was discovered to cause a stem canker disease known as "corky bark" of these tropical plants. Rossman and her colleagues in SMML and in Honduras identified the fungus using both and molecular sequence data. The research will help to accurately identify the cause of this disease in specialty crops. It will also help plant quarantine officials to identify disease-causing fungi.

Read more about this research in the July 2013 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.

Explore further: Mitigating mummy berry disease of blueberry

Related Stories

New flavors emerge from Peruvian cacao collection trip

September 26, 2011

New cacao types with unique flavors that are distinctly Peruvian have been identified by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists. These new flavors could one day be marketed like wine, by geographical provenance.

Examining rice genes for rice blast resistance

October 17, 2011

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists have characterized the molecular mechanism behind some plants' ability to resist rice blast, a fungal disease that affects cereal grain crops such as rice, wheat, rye and barley ...

An interactive atlas to preserve agricultural biodiversity

March 4, 2013

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists and cooperators have developed an interactive atlas of wild plants in Guatemala that are closely related to crop plants. The atlas will make it easier to preserve plants with ...

New strawberry species found in Oregon

July 16, 2013

A recently discovered wild strawberry provides new genetic material for plant research and may lead to a new class of commercial strawberries, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientist. Genes from the ...

Recommended for you

Male seahorse and human pregnancies remarkably alike

September 1, 2015

Their pregnancies are carried by the males but, when it comes to breeding, seahorses have more in common with humans than previously thought, new research from the University of Sydney reveals.

Parasitized bees are self-medicating in the wild, study finds

September 1, 2015

Bumblebees infected with a common intestinal parasite are drawn to flowers whose nectar and pollen have a medicinal effect, a Dartmouth-led study shows. The findings suggest that plant chemistry could help combat the decline ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.