Background: Sudden death syndrome (SDS) of soybean caused by Fusarium virguliforme spreads and reduces soybean yields through the North Central region of the U.S. The fungal pathogen and Heterodera glycines are difficult to manage. Methodology/Principal Findings: The objective was to determine the contributions of H. glycines and F. virguliforme to SDS severity and effects on soybean yield. To quantify DNA of F. virguliforme in soybean roots and soil, a specific real time qPCR assay was developed. The assay was used on materials from soybean field microplots that contained in a four-factor factorial-design: (i) untreated or methyl bromide-fumigated; (ii) non-infested or infested with F. virguliforme; (iii) non-infested or infested with H. glycines; (iv) natural precipitation or additional weekly watering. In years 2 and 3 of the trial, soil and watering treatments were maintained. Roots of soybean 'Williams 82' were collected for necrosis ratings at the full seed growth stage R6. Foliar symptoms of SDS (area under the disease progress curve, AUDPC), root necrosis, and seed yield parameters were related to population densities of H. glycines and the relative DNA concentrations of F. virguliforme in the roots and soil. The specific and sensitive real time qPCR was used. Data from microplots were introduced into models of AUDPC, root necrosis, and seed yield parameters with the frequency of H. glycines and F. virguliforme, and among each other. The models confirmed the close interrelationship of H. glycines with the development of SDS, and allowed for predictions of disease risk based on populations of these two pathogens in soil. Conclusions/Significance: The results modeled the synergistic interaction between H. glycines and F. virguliforme quantitatively in previously infested field plots and explained previous findings of their interaction. Under these conditions, F. virguliforme was mildly aggressive and depended on infection of H. glycines to cause highly severe SDS.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Part of this study was conducted during the employment of the first three authors with Purdue University. We thank Scott T. Abney for providing fungal cultures of Fusarium virguliforme, J. Santini for statistical help and for discussions. We acknowledge the support by S. Goodwin when developing the primers. We thank B. Banta, C. Floyd, G. Kruger, H. Mehl, J. Miller-Garvin, N. Snyder, L.Wei, as well as the staff in Agricultural Center of Research and Education of Purdue University and the Grounds Department for technical assistance. We thank C. Fuhrman for the provision of methyl bromide.