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Lisa A. Beirn, William A. Meyer, Bruce B. Clarke, and Jo Anne Crouch

Rusts are destructive fungal diseases that can cause severe thinning and unattractive discoloration of kentucky bluegrass (KBG; Poa pratensis L.). Currently, turfgrass breeding programs rely on field evaluations to screen KBG germplasm for rust resistance; methods that are expensive, labor intensive, and require large turf areas. The availability of a greenhouse-based assay to perform prescreening of KBG germplasm for resistance to rust diseases before field trials would allow breeders to remove the poorest performing plants before field evaluations thus enhancing breeding efficiency. In this study, we set out to develop a reliable, low-cost greenhouse inoculation protocol for the two most common rust pathogens of KBG in temperate growing regions: Puccinia coronata and Puccinia graminis, the causal agents of crown and stem rust, respectively. Using a modified inoculation assay and custom-built plexi-glass chambers adapted from protocols used for cereal rust pathogens, urediniospores of crown and stem rust fungi developed on inoculated plants 10 to 14 days postinoculation. Real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays, disease symptomology, and morphology of urediniospores confirmed the presence and identity of both rust pathogens from inoculated host tissue. The inoculation protocols described here represent an effective method to accelerate screening of KBG germplasm for resistance to crown and stem rust diseases. Infection of KBG plants in the greenhouse will also allow breeders to maintain populations of crown and stem rust fungi throughout the year, providing a reliable and ongoing source of pathogen inoculum for experimentation and screening in the future.

Open access

Ruying Wang, James W. Hempfling, Bruce B. Clarke, and James A. Murphy

Sand size can affect the ability to incorporate topdressing into the turf canopy and thatch on golf course putting greens; unincorporated sand interferes with mowing and play. This 3-year field trial was initiated to determine the effects of sand size on sand incorporation, surface wetness, and anthracnose (caused by Colletotrichum cereale Manns sensu lato Crouch, Clarke, and Hillman) of annual bluegrass [Poa annua L. f. reptans (Hausskn) T. Koyama] maintained as a putting green. The experimental design was a randomized complete block with four replications; treatments included a non-topdressed control and three topdressing sands (medium-coarse, medium, or medium-fine) applied every 2 weeks at 0.15 L·m−2 during the summer. Topdressing with medium-coarse sand was more difficult to incorporate than the medium and medium-fine sands, resulting in a greater quantity of sand collected with mower clippings. Analyzing the particle distribution of sand removed by mowing confirmed that coarser sand particles were more likely to be removed in mower clippings. Surface wetness measured as volumetric water content (VWC) at the 0- to 38-mm depth zone was greater in non-topdressed plots than topdressed plots on 35% of observations. Few differences in VWC were found among sand size treatments. Turf responses to topdressing were not immediate; however, as sand accumulated in the turf canopy, topdressed plots typically had lower anthracnose severity than non-topdressed turf after the first year. Additionally, topdressing with medium and medium-fine sands produced similar or occasionally lower disease severity than topdressing with medium-coarse sand. The lack of negative effects of medium and medium-fine sands combined with better incorporation after topdressing and less disruption to the putting surface should allow golf course superintendents to apply topdressing at frequencies and/or quantities needed during the summer to maintain high-quality turf and playing conditions.