Tropical Plant Pathology

, Volume 44, Issue 1, pp 12–22 | Cite as

The complexity of the Sclerotinia sclerotiorum pathosystem in soybean: virulence factors, resistance mechanisms, and their exploitation to control Sclerotinia stem rot

  • Megan McCaghey
  • Jaime Willbur
  • Damon L. Smith
  • Mehdi KabbageEmail author


Sclerotinia stem rot (SSR), caused by Sclerotinia sclerotiorum, is a globally important, yield limiting disease of soybean. Progress has been made in our understanding of this pathosystem at the plant level, such as the key role of oxalic acid in disease development and the importance of cell wall-degrading enzymes and other secreted proteins. Unfortunately, advances have largely focused on the fungal side of this interaction and only provide glimpses into the plant mechanisms governing resistance to this pathogen. With the absence of commercially available resistant soybeans, chemical and cultural solutions are being used by farmers to manage SSR with limited success. Additional research is needed to identify S. sclerotiorum resistance mechanisms that can be exploited to improve genetic resistance in soybean and decrease reliance on spray regimes. Technologies such as transgenics and RNAi could be exploited to improve the level of resistance to S. sclerotiorum in soybean. This review offers insight into the hurdles of managing SSR at the plant level and potential solutions that might be adopted in the future.


Sclerotinia sclerotiorum Soybean Resistance Oxalic acid Virulence factors Control 



Bimolecular fluorescence complementation


carbohydrate active enzymes


chitin synthase


cell wall-degrading enzymes


disease severity index


double-stranded RNA


host-induced gene silencing


hypersensitive response


marker assisted selection


oxalate decarboxylase


oxalate oxidase


oxalic acid


small RNA


Sclerotinia stem rot




oxaloacetate acetylhydrolase


polygalacturonase-inhibiting protein


quantitative trait loci


recombinant inbred lines


RNA interference


reactive oxygen species


small interfering RNA


spray-induced gene silencing


virus-induced gene silencing



We would like to thank the funding sources that make our work and inquiry possible including the Wisconsin Soybean Marketing Board (WSMB), the North Central Soybean Research Program (NCSRP), SciMed at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the Department of Plant Pathology at University of Wisconsin-Madison.


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Copyright information

© Sociedade Brasileira de Fitopatologia 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Plant PathologyUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA

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