Identity and Pathogenicity of Fungi Associated with Crown and Root Rot of Dryland Winter Wheat in Azerbaijan
Paulitz, Timothy C.
Dababat, Abdelfattah A.
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A comprehensive survey was performed to assess fungal populations associated with crown and root rot of wheat throughout the main wheat-growing areas of Azerbaijan. Samples were taken from 76 fields; 630 fungal strains were isolated, identified, and evaluated for pathogenicity. The identification was conducted with morphological and molecular tools such as species-specific PCR and DNA sequencing of the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) and translation elongation factor 1-alpha (EF1-alpha) loci. The fungus found in the greatest number of fields (44) was Fusarium culmorum with 192 isolates, followed by F. acuminatum. Other Fusarium spp. isolates were identified: F. equiseti, F. pseudograminearum, F. graminearum, F. incarnatum, F. avenaceum, F. hostae, F. oxysporum, F. proliferatum, F. algeriense, and F. brachygibbosum. Bipolaris sorokiniana, Curvularia spicifera, Exserohilum pedicellatum, Nigrospora oryzae, and Rhizoctonia spp. isolates were also identified, associated with underground parts of wheat. Phylogenetic analyses based on ITS and EF1-a sequences of the isolates showed that the isolates belonging to the same species were clearly separated in the dendrogram. Pathogenicity assays revealed that F. culmorum, F. pseudograminearum, and F. graminearum were most aggressive; F. avenaceum, F. hostae, F. algeriense, B. sorokiniana, C. spicifera, and R. solani isolates were moderately aggressive; C. inaequalis, E. pedicellatum, and N. oryzae were weakly aggressive; and others were nonpathogenic. The result of this study exhibited the existence of a wide range of species associated with crown and root rot of wheat in Azerbaijan. Additionally, this is the first report of F. hostae, F. algeriense, C. spicifera, C. inaequalis, and N. oryzae as pathogens on wheat in Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan is the second country after Algeria in which F. algeriense was detected.