Fusarium diversity associated with the Sorghum-Striga interaction in Ethiopia

L. Lombard, R. van Doorn, J.Z. Groenewald, T. Tessema, E.E. Kuramae, D.W. Etolo, J.M. Raaijmakers, P.W. Crous

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review


Sorghum production is seriously threatened by the root parasitic weeds (RPWs) Striga hermonthica and Striga asiatica in sub-Saharan Africa. Research has shown that Striga control depends on eliminating its seed reserves in soil. Several species of the genus Fusarium (Nectriaceae, Hypocreales), which have been isolated from diseased Striga plants have proven to be highly pathogenic to all developmental stages of these RPWs. In the present study 439 isolates of Fusarium spp. were found associated with soils from Sorghum growing fields, Sorghum rhizosphere, or as endophytes with Sorghum roots and seeds, or as endophytes of Striga stems and seeds. Based on multi-locus phylogenies of combinations of CaM, tef1, rpb1 and rpb2 alignments, and morphological characteristics, 42 species were identified, including three species that are newly described, namely F. extenuatum and F. tangerinum from Sorghum soils, and F. pentaseptatum from seed of Striga hermonthica. Using a previously published AFLP-derived marker that is specific to detect isolates of F. oxysporum f.sp.strigae, an effective soil-borne biocontrol agent against Striga, we also detected the gene in several other Fusarium species. As these isolates were all associated with the Striga/Sorghum pathosystem, the possibility of horizontal gene transfer among these fusaria will be of interest to further investigate in future.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177–215
Number of pages39
JournalFungal Systematics and Evolution
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • biological control agent
  • molecular phylogeny
  • systematics
  • three novel taxa


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