Pathogenic and Saprophytic Growth Rates of Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. vasinfectum Interact to Affect Variation in Inoculum Density and Interannual Infection Risk. Academic Article uri icon


  • Fusarium wilt of cotton caused by the soilborne fungal pathogen Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. vasinfectum race 4 (FOV4) is a contemporary epidemic affecting cotton production in Far West Texas. The spatial distribution of soilborne FOV4 can be heterogeneous at small scales, and the factors that lead to this heterogeneity require investigation. Hypothetical causes include dissemination of spores through soils and variable saprophytic growth of the fungus. In the field, FOV4 DNA was quantified from soil during and after the cotton-growing season, and though the average amounts of DNA were not different between these time points, the variances of DNA across space were significantly different. Variability was higher when pathogenic growth of the fungus was expected owing to the presence of live cotton plants and lower when saprophytic growth was expected after cropping. In sterile-environment growth chamber experiments, the abundance of organic matter influenced the fungal vegetative growth rate and maximum amount as measured through quantitative PCR and the timing of the fungus' increasing its rate of spore production as measured through dilution plating. To investigate movement of spores in soils, spore mobility in experimental columns was quantified. Soil composition and organic matter abundance affected spore mobility, indicating that the timing of spore production relative to the availability of growth resources will affect the spatial spread of FOV4 and suggesting that soil properties affect the retention of conidia. The spatial spread of FOV4 through soil varies temporally and is affected by the shift between pathogenic and saprophytic growth modes of the fungus.

published proceedings

  • Phytopathology

author list (cited authors)

  • Davis, R. L., Hayter, J. T., Marlino, M. L., Isakeit, T., & Chappell, T. M.

complete list of authors

  • Davis, Roy L||Hayter, Jensen T||Marlino, Margaret L||Isakeit, Thomas||Chappell, Thomas M

publication date

  • September 2023