Effect of Cold Acclimation and Freezing on Spring Dead Spot Severity in Bermudagrass

in HortScience

Spring dead spot (SDS), caused by three root-infecting species of Ophiosphaerella, is a destructive disease of bermudagrass (Cynodon spp.L.C. Rich). We tested the effects of incubation temperature and duration, and exposure to decreasing freezing temperatures on bermudagrass shoot survival following inoculation with SDS pathogens. Inoculated plants exposed to freezing temperatures as high as -2 °C following a two month incubation exhibited extensive shoot mortality and had SDS symptoms consistent with those observed in the field. Lowering the freezing temperature from -2 to -8 °C increased disease severity and shoot mortality on noninoculated bermudagrass. Inoculated bermudagrass incubated for 1 month in the greenhouse, then for an additional month at 4 °C had greater shoot mortality following freezing than plants incubated at 25 °C. Although cold acclimation and freezing intensified SDS symptoms, the technique did not reliably distinguish between resistant and susceptible cultivars.

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