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First Description of the Causal Agent of Taproot Decline of Soybean, an Emerging Disease in the Southern United States

T. Allen, B. Bluhm, K. Conner, V. Doyle, T. Price, E. Sikora, R. Singh, T. Spurlock, M. Tomaso-Peterson, and T. Wilkerson

April 2017


Over the past decade, a soybean root issue of unknown etiology has been observed across a widespread geography in the southern United States. Recently, pathologists began referring to the problem as taproot decline of soybean, based on the appearance of root symptoms. Taproot decline has been observed to cause foliar symptoms in vegetative and reproductive soybean plants ranging in maturity from V6 to R6. Symptom expression can appear similar to other notable root-associated diseases except that taproot decline exhibits a progression of symptom expression from subtle to severe interveinal chlorosis during the season. However, one distinct symptom associated with taproot decline is observed as darkened, black stroma on the taproot and, in some cases, the lateral roots of affected plants. Pathogenicity was confirmed by isolating the suspected fungus from naturally-infected soybean roots in multiple states and completing Koch’s postulates. The causal agent was identified, based on morphological characters and multilocus phylogenetic inference, as a member of the Xylaria arbuscula aggregate. At present, research projects are underway to address the role of the newly described disease and extent of the pathogen in the southern soybean production region in addition to developing integrated strategies for managing the disease.


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