The effect of common corn smut (Ustilago maydis) on sweet corn (Zea mays L.) in the Columbia Basin Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/cz30pw063

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  • Impact of natural infection of common com smut (Ustilago maydis) on processing characteristics of three F₁ hybrid sweet com (Zea mays L.) cultivars was evaluated in a two-year study with early and late spring planting dates. At harvest maturity, size and location of galls were recorded and quality characteristics measured. Galls on the lower stalk, upper stalk or tassel reduced fresh weight and diameter of husked ears while galls on the base reduced fresh weight only. Ear length was reduced by galls on the upper stalk. As gall size increased from 0 to larger than 10.2 cm. diameter, ear fresh weight and diameter decreased. The presence of galls larger than 10.2 cm diameter reduced ear length. Kemel depth was not affected by size or location of a gall. Additional ears of the same three cultivars were sampled from commercial fields planted in mid-season near Walla Walla and Patterson, Wa. Galls located on the upper and lower stalk reduced fresh weight, length, diameter and kemel depth, while galls on the tassel or base had little or no effect on these parameters. As gall size increased, fresh weight, length, diameter and kernel depth decreased. A white yeast-like fungus was observed associated with kernels of sweet com in mature fields, and was hypothesized to be U. maydis. Frequently kernels associated with this symptom leaked their contents to surrounding tissue. These kernels would become dark during processing and resulted in reduced ear yield and quality. Several tests were conducted to confirm the identity of the fungus. Using a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) technique referred to as a CAPS (Cleaved Amplified Polymorphic Sequence) procedure, isolates of this unknown fungus, when compared to known U. maydis isolates, were identical. To support the data from the PCR test a traditional mating test was done which paired known and unknown isolates. In addition, greenhouse inoculation tests using both known and unknown isolates resulted in symptom development consistent with U. maydis infection.
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