Winter survival of the soybean rust pathogen, Phakopsora pachyrhizi, in Florida.
Soybean rust (SBR) survival and host availability (kudzu, Pueraria spp.) were assessed from November 2006 through April 2007 at six sites from the panhandle to southwest Florida. Micro loggers recorded both temperature and relative humidity hourly at each location. Periods of drought and cumulative hours below 0°C correlated with kudzu defoliation. Inoculum potential from detached kudzu leaves was evaluated in vitro under various temperature and relative humidity levels. Kudzu leaves with SBR kept at 4°C produced viable urediniospores with the highest germination at all moisture levels over time. Freezing temperatures (-4 and -20°C) drastically reduced spore germination. However, when leaves were incubated at low (<35%) relative humidity, inoculum potential was prolonged. Results from this study demonstrate that both temperature and relative humidity impact P. pachyrhizi in the field and in vitro, and that detached kudzu leaves have the potential to serve as an inoculum source in kudzu stands.