Morphological Enumeration of Resting Spores in Sporosori of the Plant Pathogen Spongospora subterranean

Richard E. Fallon,

Ueli Merz,

Ros A. Lister,

Andrew R. Wallace,

Simon P. Hayes


Plasmodiophorid sporosori (aggregations of resting spores) reach their most complex form in Spongospora subterranea f. sp. subterranea, the biotrophic plant pathogen which causes the economically important disease powdery scab of potato (Solanum tuberosum). Resting spores are the perennation life cycle stage of plasmodiophorids, allowing them to survive for long periods and infect subsequent host generations. Light microscopy was used to measure resting spores and sporosori of Sp. subterranea, and enumerate resting spores in individual sporosori. Mean resting spore diameters differed for two sporosorus collections, being 4.0 μm (from New Zealand) and 4.3 μm (from Switzerland). Counts of resting spores in 4 μm thick serial sections of sporosori from one collection gave a mean of 667 (range 155 to 1,526) resting spores per sporosorus. Number of resting spores per sporosorus was closely related to sporosorus volume, and could be accurately estimated using the formula; number of resting spores = 0.0081 × sporosorus volume (assuming sporosori to be spheroids). Using this formula, mean numbers of resting spores in sporosori from 37 Sp. subterranea collections from field-grown potato tubers from 13 countries were determined to range from 199 to 713. Differences in numbers of resting spores between the collections were statistically significant (P < 0.05), and independent of country or host cultivar of origin, indicating that enumeration should be carried out for individual sporosorus collections to accurately quantify inoculum. Morphology, using scanning electron microscopy, also showed that between 2 and 51% (average 20%) of resting spores released zoospores after exposure to roots of host plants. The formula for resting spore enumeration validated in this study can be used to standardise Sp. subterranea resting spore inoculum for plant pathology studies, and possibly to assist determination of soil inoculum potential for disease risk evaluations.

Słowa kluczowe: Microscopy, powdery scab, potato, Solanum tuberosum

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