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26

Kudzu in the city: Detection of Asian soybean rust on kudzu in protected areas in the urban environment during the winter months in Alabama

Presenter: E. J. Sikora

All authors and affiliations: E. J. SIKORA and M. Delaney. Auburn University, Auburn, AL

Kudzu (Pueraria lobata) is a large, semi-woody perennial vine that is susceptible to Asian soybean rust (Phakopsora pachyrhizi). There is an estimated one million hectares of land infested with kudzu in Alabama. Kudzu grows best where average summer temperatures are regularly above 27C and annual rainfall is 1,000 mm or more. In areas where winter temperatures drop below 15C, it will be killed back to the ground, but roots will send out new growth in the spring. During 2005, soybean rust was found throughout the state on soybeans and kudzu. We anticipated that winter temperatures would kill back kudzu, eliminating it as an inoculum source of P. pachyrhizi, reducing the probability of early-season soybean rust infection of soybeans in Alabama. A survey was conducted to determine the amount of kudzu that survived the winter and the number of kudzu sites infected with P. pachyrhizi. Scouting focused on protected areas in urban and rural environments. A total of 205 kudzu sites was observed. Leaves were collected and tested for P. pachyrhizi when green tissue was found. Eleven kudzu sites, all infected with P. pachyrhizi, were detected in five counties. These sites were all in protected locations in urban areas. Alabama experienced a relatively mild winter with 7C being the coldest temperature recorded at any of the 11 sites, well above the temperature reported to cause kudzu to die back. We believe the mild temperatures, combined with the protection provided by these urban locations, allowed kudzu to survive the winter in Alabama.

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