Life cycle of Puccinia acroptili on Rhaponticum (=Acroptilon) repens.
Russian knapweed (Rhaponticum repens) is a rangeland weed pest in the western United States. One candidate fungus for biological control of R. repens is Puccinia acroptili, which causes a rust disease. Understanding the life cycle of candidate rust fungi for weed biological control is an essential component in risk assessments and evaluations, and for P. acroptili such was unknown. For this reason greenhouse studies were undertaken to clarify the life cycle of P. acroptili under artificial conditions. Spermogonia with spermatia developed on R. repens following plant inoculation with teliospores. Artificial transfer of spermatia between spermogonia resulted in the development of aecia with uredinioid aeciospores. Inoculation with aeciospores or urediniospores resulted in uredinia containing urediniospores and occasional amphispores. Telia with teliospores and occasional mesospores developed later. Teliospores produced typical basidia with four basidiospores. These results suggest that the life cycle of P. acroptili is macrocyclic and autoecious. Inoculation with teliospores also frequently resulted in production of sori that were morphologically similar to aecia but which were not associated with spermogonia or the classical transfer of spermatia. The ontology of these sori is unknown. This is the first description of spermogonia and the first report and description of basidiospores, aecia, aeciospores, amphispores and mesospores of P. acroptili.