Sweet sorghum (Sorghum bicolor) has been grown in the southeastern United States for more than 150 years on a relatively limited scale, primarily for forage and for the production of table syrup. However, interest in the crop has increased recently due to its potential as a feedstock for biofuels. Colletotrichum sublineola is the causal agent of anthracnose on cultivated sorghum and on the wild sorghum relative Johnsongrass (S. halepense). Anthracnose is an important disease of grain sorghum worldwide, but little is known about its impact on sweet sorghum in the U.S. The aggressiveness of four C. sublineola isolates collected from sweet and grain sorghum and from Johnsongrass at various locations across Kentucky was measured as disease incidence and severity on the susceptible heirloom sweet sorghum inbred Sugar Drip in inoculated field trials. The isolate from sweet sorghum was the most aggressive, while the two Johnsongrass isolates caused only minimal disease symptoms. Disease incidences of up to 99%, and severities of up to 16.7% of leaf area affected, had no negative effect on the yield of biomass, grain, juice, or Brix. Removal of sorghum seed heads increased Brix in the stalks and leaves, but did not affect susceptibility to anthracnose. The same group of fungal isolates was evaluated for aggressiveness in greenhouse assays on juvenile plants, and in the laboratory on seedlings and detached leaf sheaths. These protocols will be useful for prescreening sorghum germplasm for new sources of resistance or for characterizing the aggressiveness of new fungal isolates.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Agronomy and Crop Science
- Plant Science