Epidemiological aspects of Claviceps africana, causal agent of Sorghum ergot
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Sorghum ergot, caused by Claviceps africana Frederickson, Mantle & de Milliano, is a disease that affects non-fertilized ovaries in sorghum male-sterile plants and infects hybrids if there is pollen sterility at flowering time. Sphacelia containing macroconidia could play a role in the survival of the pathogen. This study developed risk assessment models and evaluated environmental conditions affecting viability of macroconidia and transition from sphacelial to sclerotial tissues. Effect of weather on ergot severity was evaluated under natural conditions (in monthly planting dates) in nine sorghum genotypes at College Station, Weslaco, Rio Bravo, and Celaya. Panicles were inoculated daily beginning at flower initiation with a suspension of 1.6 x 106 C. africana conidia ml-1. Weather triad values were used to identify weather parameters correlated with the disease. Ergot severity was statistically greater in A-lines than hybrids because of the possible interference of pollen on some dates. Celaya had the greatest amount of ergot in hybrids. A-line ATx2752 had the lowest average ergot severity throughout years, locations and planting dates, as did the hybrid NC+8R18. Maximum and minimum temperature had a negative correlation with ergot at Rio Bravo, College Station and Weslaco, while at Celaya it was positive. The highest correlation was 7 to 9 days before initiation of flowering, suggesting that cooler temperatures during this period could cause male sterility. A-lines showed the same relationships between ergot and maximum and minimum temperatures after initiation of flowering. Minimum relative humidity had a positive correlation with ergot after initiation of flowering in both sorghum plant types. Sphacelia stored under cool temperatures (-3oC to 7oC) maintained conidial viability, and newly-formed sphacelia located on the sphacelia surface had the highest conidial viability. However, they show a greater viability reduction through time compared with conidia from older sphacelia, showing that conidial maturity can play a role in the survival of the conidia. Sphacelia on plants grown at 10oC, 20oC and 30oC with low relative humidity did not had any sclerotial development up to 4 weeks after formation of sphacelia. However, higher temperatures promoted an increase in the sphacelia dry weight during that time.
Noe, Montes Garcia; Noe, Montes Garcia (2004). Epidemiological aspects of Claviceps africana, causal agent of Sorghum ergot. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Texas A&M University. Available electronically from