Aspects of the biology, epidemiology and control of Rhizoctonia Solani (Kühn) on potato
Aspects of the biology, epidemiology and control of Rhizoctonia solani from potato were investigated using a range of laboratory and field-based experiments. In vitro experiments revealed nutritional factors including a range of carbon sources, and inorganic and organic nitrogen did not affect significantly mycelial growth or sclerotial germination. Carbon and nitrogen sources including cellobiose, glucose, glycerol and potassium nitrate significantly increased sclerotial biomass production in vitro. Mycelial growth, sclerotial production and germination occurred over a temperature range of 10-30oC, with an optimum of 25oC for both AG 2-1 and AG 3 isolates. Mycelial growth and sclerotial germination occurred at pH 4-9 with an optimum of pH 5.6, whereas sclerotial production occurred between pH 4-6 for AG 2-1 isolates and pH 4-8 for AG 3 isolates. Mycelial growth, sclerotial biomass production and germination declined with decreasing osmotic, matric and soil water potential, with mycelial growth prevented between -3.5 MPa and -4.0MPa on osmotically adjusted media, at -2.0 MPa on metrically adjusted media and -6.3 MPa in soil. Sclerotial production ceased prior to the limits for mycelial growth and germination for all isolates, between -1.5 MPa and -3.5 MPa on osmotically adjusted media and -1.5 MPa on metrically adjusted media. AG 3 isolates produced significantly more well-formed sclerotia during all in vitro experiments compared to the loosely constructed sclerotia produced by AG 2-1 isolates. A pathogenicity bioassay, coupled with staining and microscopic examination of stem tissues, showed all AGs formed infection cushions as a prerequisite to infection, with clear differences in the extent of infection cushion formation and subsequent stem lesion severity. AG 2-1 produced small, infrequent infection cushions, causing stem lesions only 1-2 mm in length which did not increase in size or severity after initial formation.