Species Diversity of and Toxin Production by Gibberella fujikuroi Species Complex Strains Isolated from Native Prairie Grasses in Kansas†


American Society for Microbiology


Fusarium species from agricultural crops have been well studied with respect to toxin production and genetic diversity, while similar studies of communities from nonagricultural plants are much more limited. We examined 72 Fusarium isolates from a native North American tallgrass prairie and found that Gibberella intermedia (Fusarium proliferatum), Gibberella moniliformis (Fusarium verticillioides), and Gibberella konza (Fusarium konzum) dominated. Gibberella thapsina (Fusarium thapsinum) and Gibberella subglutinans (Fusarium subglutinans) also were recovered, as were seven isolates that could not be assigned to any previously described species on the basis of either morphological or molecular characters. In general, isolates from the prairie grasses produced the same toxins in quantities similar to those produced by isolates of the same species recovered from agricultural hosts. The G. konza isolates produce little or no fumonisins (up to 120 μg/g by one strain), and variable but generally low to moderate amounts of beauvericin (4 to 320 μg/g) and fusaproliferin (50 to 540 μg/g). Toxicity to Artemia salina larvae within most species was correlated with the concentration of either beauvericin or fusaproliferin produced. Organic isolates from some cultures of G. moniliformis were highly toxic towards A. salina even though they produced little, if any, beauvericin or fusaproliferin. Thus, additional potentially toxigenic compounds may be synthesized by G. moniliformis strains isolated from prairie grasses. The Fusarium community from these grasses appears to contain some species not found in surrounding agricultural communities, including some that probably are undescribed, and could be capable of serving as a reservoir for strains of potential agricultural importance.

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