We investigated the sexual reproductive mode of the two most important etiological agents of soybean sudden death syndrome, Fusarium tucumaniae and Fusarium virguliforme. F. tucumaniae sexual crosses often were highly fertile, making it possible to assign mating type and assess female fertility in 24 South American isolates. These crosses produced red perithecia and oblong-elliptical ascospores, as is typical for sexual members of the F. solani species complex. Genotyping of progeny from three F. tucumaniae crosses confirmed that sexual recombination had occurred. In contrast, pairings among 17 U.S. F. virguliforme isolates never produced perithecia. Inter-species crosses between F. tucumaniae and F. virguliforme, in which infertile perithecia were induced only in one of the two F. tucumaniae mating types, suggest that all U.S. F. virguliforme isolates are of a single mating type. We conclude that the F. tucumaniae life cycle in S. America includes a sexual reproductive mode, and thus this species has greater potential for rapid evolution than the F. virguliforme population in the U.S., which may be exclusively asexual.
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