Sudden Death Syndrome (SDS) or Brown Stem Rot (BSR)? That is the question!

By Horacio Lopez-Nicora, Adapted from C.O.R.N. 2022-30

In August we started finding soybean diseases in Ohio. Recently, several fields in Ohio have been showing foliar symptoms (Fig. 1) very similar to those caused by sudden death syndrome (SDS)

Photo Credit, Dr. Horacio Lopez Nicora, The Ohio State University Extension

Figure 1. Soybean field in Ohio severely affected by sudden death syndrome (SDS) with premature defoliation in the R5/R6 growth stage (A); symptoms begin with interveinal yellowing (chlorosis) of leaf (B); eventually leaf tissue dies and becomes brown but veins remain green (C). The fungus infects the root and produces toxins that are responsible for the above-ground symptoms.

SDS is caused by the fungal pathogen Fusarium virguliforme. This species is the most prevalent in the region, however, other Fusarium species can cause SDS. SDS above-ground symptoms can be confused with those produced by a different fungus (Cadophora gregata) that causes brown stem rot (BSR). To distinguish SDS from BSR, symptomatic plants should be dug out and stem cut open longitudinally. SDS-infected plants have white, healthy-looking pith, while BSR-infected plants present brown discoloration of the pith. Moreover, fields with severe SDS symptoms can also have high levels of soybean cyst nematode (SCN).

WATCH THIS VIDEO ON HOW TO DISTINGUISH SDS FROM BSR.

If you suspect to have SDS, we encourage you to submit a sample to the Soybean Pathology and Nematology Laboratory in the Department of Plant Pathology at The Ohio State University in Columbus (see address below). We will confirm if it is SDS or BSR; additionally, if it is SDS, we want to determine what Fusarium species is the causal agent. To submit samples, dig out three to five symptomatic plants (including roots), placed them in a plastic bag, and submit them to our lab. Do not hesitate to contact your extension educator or us if you have any questions.

We can help diagnose soybean diseases with you!

You are welcome to submit your samples to the address below. Contact us if you have any questions. Send your samples to:

OSU Soybean Pathology and Nematology Lab

Attn: Horacio Lopez-Nicora, Ph.D.

110 Kottman Hall

2021 Coffey Rd. 

Columbus, Ohio 43210

lopez-nicora.1@osu.edu

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