Microdochium paspali, a new species causing seashore paspalum disease in southern China.
A new species of Microdochium was identified as the causal agent of leaf blight of seashore paspalum (Paspalum vaginatum), a turf grass widely used in tropical and subtropical golf courses. In 2010 foliar necrosis and canopy thinning were observed on 11 surveyed golf courses in Hainan province, China, especially on fairways and putting greens. The infected leaves initially appeared water-soaked and dark green, rapidly faded to yellow or became chlorotic and quickly died, resulting in a sparse appearance in infected areas, leading to the disease name "sparse leaf patch." Isolates with rich and light pink to yellow mycelia and salmon-colored pionnotes were cultured from diseased turf foliage. Pathogenicity was demonstrated by inoculating these isolates onto "seaspray" seashore paspalum. Phylogenetic analysis based on the nuc rDNA internal transcribed spacer 1-5.8S-internal transcribed spacer 2 region (ITS), translation elongation factor 1-α (TEF1-α) and β-tubulin (BenA) indicated these isolates formed as a distinct clade within Microdochium (Xylariales). Further microscopic examination demonstrated that the species was morphologically distinct from three similar species of Microdochium. The name Microdochium paspali sp. nov. is proposed for this novel fungal pathogen.