|dc.description.abstract||Cyperus rotundus L. CYPRO (purple nutsedge) and Cyperus esculentus L. CYPES (yellow
nutsedge) are problematic weeds on every continent. At present there is no comprehensive
means of controling these weeds.. The primary means of control is herbicides, although the
weeds are becoming more resistant. Bioherbicide control of purple and yellow nutsedge is an
important avenue of research, with much of the focus being to increase the virulence of current
fungal pathogens of C. rotundus and C. esculentus.
The primary aim of this study was to increase the virulence of a fungal pathogen of C. rotundus
and C. esculentus, with the objective of creating a viable bioherbicide.
A possible means of increasing the virulence of a pathogen would be to increase the amount of
amino acid produced by the fungus. This was proposed as a means of increasing the virulence of
Dactylaria higginsii (Luttrell) M. B. Ellis. Overproduction of amino acids such as valine and
leucine result in the feedback-inhibition of acetolactate synthase (ALS), an enzyme which is a
target for many herbicides currently on the market. By applying various amino acids to tubers of
purple nutsedge and comparing the results with a reputable herbicide, glyphosate, it was possible
to determine the success of the amino acid applications. Only glutamine treatment at 600 mg.r1
resulted in significantly less (P<O.OOI) germination compared with the water control, while the
glyphosate application resulted in no germination. Four treatments were significantly different
(P<O.OOI) from the water control in terms of shoot length, but no pattern or conclusion could be
drawn from the results. Injecting amino acids and glyphosate into the leaves of the plants gave
similar results to those obtained with the tubers, with no visible damage on those plants injected
with the amino acids and complete plant death of those injected with glyphosate. Amino acids
had little effect on the growth of the C. rotundus plant or tuber. It was later determined by a
, unpublished) working on the same project, that D. higginsii does not infect
the local ecotypes of C. rotundus in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.
A second fungus, Cercospora caricis Oud., was isolated from C. rotundus growing in the region,
and confirmed as a Cercospora species by conidial identification. Like many Cercospora
species, C. caricis produces a phytotoxin, cercosporin. An increase in production of cercosporin
would theoretically lead to an increase in virulence of C. caricis. Mutation of hyphae by
J Makhosi Mchunu: Address: National department ofAgriculture; Private Bag 3917; Port Elizabeth; 6056
ultraviolet-C light was perfected on C. penzigii Sacc., where 5 min exposure to DV-C light
resulted in approximately 99% cell death. Surviving colonies were analysed by spectrophoresis,
and the surviving mutant gave an absorbance value of approximately 5% more than the median.
Samples were analysed by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) to determine the
presence of cercosporin. No definitive result was obtained. Exposure of C. caricis to DV-C for
5 min. resulted in approximately 65% hyphal cell death, with 20 min. resulting in approximately
95% death. A spontaneous mutant was observed in a colony that had been exposed to DV-C.
This mutant showed sectored growth with red and grey growth patterns. The red section of the
mutant was subcultured and analysed by spectrophoresis and HPLC. The red C. caricis gave an
absorbance reading of approximately 140 on HPLC compared with about 22 from the grey
colony. HPLC analysis of the wild-type C. caricis did not produce a peak corresponding to that
of the cercosporin standard, although no conclusion could be obtained on the presence or
absence ofthe toxin.
The virulence of the mutant C. caricis could not be determined as inoculation experiments were
unsuccessful, and had to be discontinued due to time constraints.||en