Observations on the gall rust fungus Prospodium transformans, a potential biocontrol agent of Tecoma stans var. stans (Bignoniaceae) in South Africa.
Tecoma stans var. stans, a tree originating from the Americas, is emerging as an invasive weed in South Africa. A microcyclic gall inducing rust fungus, Prospodium transformans, has been investigated as a biological control agent against this plant. Development of germinating teliospores and symptoms on host plants are described, and the optimum temperature for teliospore germination was found to be 18-22°C. Inoculations of plants grown from seed originating from South Africa and various localities in Mexico and Texas (USA) indicate that there are likely races specific to morphological variants of this widespread and highly variable plant species. Despite readily inducing galls on plants grown under quarantine glasshouse conditions in South Africa, this rust fungus failed to establish in the field upon release. It is suggested that the origin of the form of this plant, which has become invasive in South Africa, needs to be identified to source the correct race of P. transformans for release in South Africa.