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Biology, Impact and Preliminary Host-specificity Testing of the Rust Fungus, Uromyces salsolae, a Potential Biological Control Agent for Salsola kali in the USA

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Russian thistle, Salsola kali (=Salsola australis) (Chenopodiaceae) of Eurasian origin is a troublesome weed in the drier regions of the western USA. The weed commonly infests crops, disturbed wastelands and overgrazed rangelands. A rust fungus, Uromyces salsolae, has been found to cause considerable damage to the weed in Eurasia. Field observations in Turkey revealed that S. kali plants infected by the rust were covered with a powdery brown mass of urediniospores and had stunted growth. Under laboratory conditions, U. salsolae severely infected Salsola plants from France, the USA and Turkey (control). The urediniospores germinated when in contact with water within a minimum period of 2 h and over a wide range of temperatures. S. kali plants were also infected at a wide range of temperatures and incubation periods with simulated dew. Fungal attack was very severe and caused mortality or much reduced growth of infected plants without seed production. Preliminary host specificity testing using 17 plant species or varieties from six families revealed that the rust infected only the Russian thistle. U. salsolae was imported recently into the USA for further host specificity testing under quarantine conditions. Its use as a biological control agent for S. kali in the USA is recommended.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 December 2001

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