Agronomy and Horticulture Department


Date of this Version



Mycologia, 105(5), 2013, pp. 1190–1201.


Copyright 2013 by The Mycological Society of America, Lawrence, KS


Rhizoctonia blight is a common and serious disease of many turfgrass species. The most widespread causal agent, Thanatephorus cucumeris (anamorph: R. solani), consists of several genetically different subpopulations. In addition, Waitea circinata varieties zeae, oryzae and circinata (anamorph: Rhizoctonia spp.) also can cause the disease. Accurate identification of the causal pathogen is important for effective management of the disease. It is challenging to distinguish the specific causal pathogen based on disease symptoms or macroscopic and microscopic morphology. Traditional methods such as anastomosis reactions with tester isolates are time consuming and sometimes difficult to interpret. In the present study universally primed PCR (UP-PCR) fingerprinting was used to assess genetic diversity of Rhizoctonia spp. infecting turfgrasses. Eighty-four Rhizoctonia isolates were sampled from diseased turfgrass leaves from seven distinct geographic areas in Virginia and Maryland. Rhizoctonia isolates were characterized by ribosomal DNA internal transcribed spacer (rDNAITS) region and UP-PCR. The isolates formed seven clusters based on ITS sequences analysis and unweighted pair group method with arithmetic mean (UPGMA) clustering of UP-PCR markers, which corresponded well with anastomosis groups (AGs) of the isolates. Isolates of R. solani AG 1-IB (n=18), AG 2-2IIIB (n=30) and AG 5 (n=1) clustered separately. Waitea circinata var. zeae (n=9) and var. circinata (n=4) grouped separately. A cluster of six isolates of Waitea (UWC) did not fall into any known Waitea variety. The binucleate Rhizoctonia-like fungi (BNR) (n=16) clustered into two groups. Rhizoctonia solani AG 2-2IIIB was the most dominant pathogen in this study, followed by AG 1-IB. There was no relationship between the geographic origin of the isolates and clustering of isolates based on the genetic associations. To our knowledge this is the first time UP-PCR was used to characterize Rhizoctonia, Waitea and Ceratobasidium isolates to their infraspecies level.