Blueberry leaf rust caused by Thekopsora minima is a serious threat to blueberry production. To investigate the host range and characterize new sources of resistance, 15 southern highbush accessions (Vaccinium corymbosum), two interspecific hybrids (V. elliottii × V. pallidum and V. corymbosum × V. pallidum), and accessions from five diploid Vaccinium species were inoculated with an isolate of T. minima. Of 15, only two southern highbush accessions displayed resistance, whereas both accessions of V. arboreum displayed immunity against T. minima. Accessions of V. darrowii exhibited necrosis but with limited sporulation, indicating a high level of resistance. Sporulating lesions and brown spots were observed in accessions of V. elliottii and V. tenellum. Brown lesions, large pustules, and abundant sporulation were observed on V. pallidum accessions and their interspecific hybrids. As the lesions expanded, defoliation was observed in V. pallidum accessions. When tested against rabbiteye (V. virgatum) and southern highbush blueberries, urediniospores of T. minima from overwintering leaves of V. pallidum were found to be virulent, suggesting that T. minima overwinters on V. pallidum. Based on symptoms and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) of urediniospores, we hypothesize that V. elliottii, V. tenellum, V. pallidum, and V. corymbosum exhibit no host specificity to T. minima.
Species of Botryosphaeria and Neofusicoccum are major pathogens of blueberry worldwide. Accurate identification of these species is essential for developing effective management practices. A multigene sequencing strategy was used to distinguish between six isolates of stem blight pathogens collected from two different regions of the United States. The temperature growth study revealed that the optimal temperature for growth of five of the tested isolates ranged from 25 to 30 °C, although no significant difference was detected for the growth of Neofusicoccum spp. isolate SD16-86 at 20, 25, 30, and 35 °C. In vitro fungicide assays showed four fungicides, cyprodinil + fludioxonil, propiconazole, pyraclostrobin + boscalid, and azoxystrobin, were effective against the tested isolates with isolate SD16-86 being less sensitive compared with the other isolates. In a detached stem assay, none of 39 blueberry accessions displayed immunity or a high level of resistance to the two tested isolates, and no significant difference in lesion length was detected among the seven tested Vaccinium species inoculated with the two isolates.