Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus L.) is widely cultivated and consumed in Malaysia for its nutritional value. In June 2018, nearly 40% of the 'Red Rocky' watermelon plants in experimental plots of the research farm at Faculty of Agriculture, UPM Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia had leaf spot symptoms. Leaf spots were small, ranging 5 to 30 mm, yellow to brown, and circular to irregular in shape. With ages, the leafspots gradually enlarged and coalesced. To investigate the disease, ten symptomatic leaves were collected from the experimental plots. Diseased tissues (5 x 5 mm) were excied and surface sterilized with 0.5% sodium hypochlorite (NaOCl) for 2 min, rinsed twice with sterile distilled water, plated on potato dextrose agar (PDA), and incubated at 25 °C for 5 days. A total of ten isolates with similar colony morphologies were obtained from tissue samples. A single representative isolate "F" was further characterized by molecular analysis. All colonies were initially white in color, but later turned gray to black upon sporulation after 7 days. Conidia were produced in culture and were single-celled, black, smooth-walled, spherical in shape measuring 11.4 to 14 μm x 13.8 to 19 μm in diameter (n=40). These were borne on hyaline vesicles at the tip of a conidiophore. For molecular identification, genomic DNA was extracted from fresh mycelium of isolate F using DNeasy Plant Mini kit (Qiagen, Germantown, MD, USA). The internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region of rDNA and the translation elongation factor 1-alpha (TEF1-α) gene were amplified using the ITS5/ITS4 (White et al. 1990) and EF1-728F/EF1-986R primer sets (Carbone and Kohn 1999), respectively. BLASTn analysis of the ITS sequence revealed 100% identity (526 bp out of 526 bp) to Nigrospora sphaerica (GenBank Accession no. HQ608063). TEF1-α sequence had 100% identity (494 bp out 494 bp) with N. sphaerica (GenBank Accession no. MN995332). The resulting sequences were deposited in GenBank (ITS: Accession no. MK544066; TEF1-α Accession no. MT708197). Based on morphological and molecular characteristics, isolate "F" was identified as Nigrospora sphaerica (Sacc.) Mason (Chen et al. 2018). A pathogenicity test was conducted on five healthy leaves of five one-month-old watermelon 'Red Rocky' plants grown in a greenhouse. Leaves were wounded using a 34-mm-diameter florist pin frog and spray-inoculated until runoff with a conidial suspension (1 × 106 conidia/ml) of a 7-day-old culture. Five leaves from additional 2 plants were sprayed with sterile distilled water to serve as controls. Inoculated plants were covered with polyethylene bags for 48 h to maintain high humidity. Ten days post-inoculation, symptoms on inoculated leaves developed brown-to-black lesions similar to those observed in the field, while control leaves remained asymptomatic. N. sphaerica was re-isolated from all symptomatic tissues confirming Koch's postulates. N. sphaerica is distributed on a wide range of hosts and has been reported from 40 different host genera including monocotyledonous and dicotyledonous hosts (Wang et al. 2017). N. sphaerica has been reported to cause leaf spot of date palm in Pakistan (Alam et al. 2020) and kiwifruit in China (Chen et al. 2016). To our knowledge, this is the first report of N. sphaerica causing leaf spot of watermelon in Malaysia. This new disease could reduce fruit quality since sweetness and ripening are dependent on healthy foliage. Additionally, this disease can cause premature defoliation which would also reduce watermelon productivity.
Anthracnose fruit rot caused by various Colletotrichum spp. is a serious disease for pepper (Capsicum annuum) growers, resulting in extensive fruit loss (Harp et al. 2008). Samples of five pepper fruits were obtained from two commercial farms in Lexington and Pickens counties, South Carolina, in August and September 2019, respectively. All fruits had two or more soft, sunken lesions covered with salmon-colored spore masses. Pieces of diseased tissue cut from the margins of lesions were surface disinfested in 0.6% sodium hypochlorite, rinsed in sterile deionized water, blotted dry, and placed on one-quarter-strength potato dextrose agar (PDA/4) amended with 100 mg chloramphenicol, 100 mg streptomycin sulfate, and 60.5 mg mefenoxam (0.25 ml Ridomil Gold EC) per liter. Two isolates of Colletotrichum sp. per fruit were preserved on dried filter paper and stored at 10º C. One additional isolate of Colletotrichum sp. had been collected from a jalapeño pepper fruit on a farm in Charleston County, South Carolina, in 1997. Colony morphology of three isolates, one per county, on Spezieller Nährstoffarmer Agar (SNA) was pale grey with a faint orange tint. All isolates readily produced conidia on SNA with an average length of 16.4 μm (std. dev. = 1.8 μm) and a width of 2.2 μm (std. dev. = 0.2 μm). Conidia were hyaline, smooth, straight, aseptate, cylindrical to fusiform with one or both ends slightly acute or round, matching the description of C. scovillei (Damm et al. 2012). The glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) and beta-tubulin (TUB2) genes from three isolates were amplified and sequenced with the primer pairs GDF1/GDR1 and T1/Bt2b, respectively. Species within the C. acutatum clade can be readily distinguished with GAPDH or TUB2 (Cannon et al. 2012). The GAPDH and TUB2 sequences for all three isolates were 100% similar to each other and strain CBS 126529 (GAPDH accession number JQ948597; TUB2 accession number JQ949918) of C. scovillei (Damm et al. 2012). GAPDH and TUB2 sequences for each isolate were deposited in GenBank under the accessions MT826948-MT826950 and MT826951-MT826953, respectively. A pathogenicity test was conducted on jalapeño pepper fruits by placing a 10-ul droplet of a 5 x 105 conidial suspension of each isolate onto a wound made with a sterile toothpick. Control peppers were mock inoculated with 10 ul sterile distilled water. A humid chamber was prepared by placing moist paper towels on the bottom of a sealed crisper box. Inoculated peppers were placed on upside-down 60 ml plastic condiment cups. Three replicate boxes each containing all four treatments were prepared. The experiment was repeated once. After 7 days in the humid chamber at 26ºC, disease did not develop on control fruits, whereas soft, sunken lesions covered with salmon-colored spores developed on inoculated fruits. Lesions were measured and C. scovillei was re-isolated onto amended PDA/4 as previously described. Lesion length averaged 15.6 mm (std dev. = 4.1 mm) by 11.5 mm (std dev. = 2.0 mm). Colletotrichum sp. resembling the original isolate were recovered from all inoculated fruit, but not from non-inoculated fruit. C. scovillei has been reported in Brazil in South America and in China, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand in Asia (Farr and Rossman 2020). This is the first report of C. scovillei as the casual organism of anthracnose fruit rot on pepper in South Carolina and the United States.
Rockmelon, (Cucumis melo L.) is an economically important crop cultivated in Malaysia. In October 2019, severe leaf spot symptoms with a disease incidence of 40% were observed on the leaves of rockmelon cv. Golden Champion at Faculty of Agriculture, Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM). Symptoms appeared as brown necrotic spots, 10 to 30 mm in diameter, with spots surrounded by chlorotic halos. Pieces (5 x 5 mm) of diseased tissue were sterilized with 0.5% NaOCl for 1 min, rinsed three times with sterile distilled water, plated onto potato dextrose agar (PDA) and incubated at 25°C for 7 days with a 12-h photoperiod. Nine morphologically similar isolates were obtained by using single spore isolation technique and a representative isolate B was characterized further. Colonies were abundant, whitish aerial mycelium with orange pigmentation. The isolates produced macroconidia with 5 to 6 septa, a tapered with pronounced dorsiventral curvature and measured 25 to 30 μm long x 3 to 5 μm wide. Microconidia produced after 12 days of incubation were single-celled, hyaline, ovoid, nonseptate, and 1.0 to 3.0 × 4.0 to 10.0 µm. Morphological characteristics of the isolates were similar to the taxonomic description of Fusarium equiseti (Leslie and Summerell 2006). Genomic DNA was extracted from fresh mycelium using DNeasy Plant Mini kit (Qiagen, USA). To confirm the identity of the fungus, two sets of primers, ITS4/ITS5 (White et al. 1990) and TEF1-α, EF1-728F/EF1-986R (Carbone and Kohn 1999) were used to amplify complete internal transcribed spacer (ITS) and partial translation elongation factor 1-alpha (TEF1-α) genes, respectively. BLASTn search in the NCBI database using ITS and TEF-1α sequences revealed 99 to 100% similarities with species of both F. incarnatum and F. equiseti. BLAST analysis of these in FUSARIUM-ID database showed 100% and 99% similarity with Fusarium incarnatum-F. equiseti species complex (FIESC) (NRRL34059 [EF-1α] and NRRL43619 [ITS]) respectively (Geiser et al. 2004). The ITS and TEF1-α sequences were deposited in GenBank (MT515832 and MT550682). The isolate was identified as F. equiseti, which belongs to the FIESC based on morphological and molecular characteristics. Pathogenicity was conducted on five healthy leaves of 1-month-old rockmelon cv. Golden Champion grown in 5 plastic pots filled with sterile peat moss. The leaves were surface-sterilized with 70% ethanol and rinsed twice with sterile-distilled water. Then, the leaves were wounded using 34-mm-diameter florist pin frog and inoculated by pipetting 20-μl conidial suspension (1 × 106 conidia/ml) of 7-day-old culture of isolate B onto the wound sites. Control leaves were inoculated with sterile-distilled water only. The inoculated plants were covered with plastic bags for 5 days and maintained in a greenhouse at 25 °C, 90% relative humidity with a photoperiod of 12-h. After 7 days, inoculated leaves developed necrotic lesions similar to the symptoms observed in the field while the control treatment remained asymptomatic. The fungus was reisolated from the infected leaves and was morphologically identical to the original isolate. F. equiseti was previously reported causing fruit rot of watermelon in Georgia (Li and Ji 2015) and China (Li et al. 2018). This pathogen could cause serious damage to established rockmelon as it can spread rapidly in the field. To our knowledge, this is the first report of a member of the Fusarium incarnatum-F.equiseti species complex causing leaf spot on Cucumis melo in Malaysia.
A warning system for the sooty blotch and flyspeck (SBFS) fungal disease complex of apple, developed originally for use in the southeastern United States, was modified to provide more reliable assessment of SBFS risk in Iowa. Modeling results based on previous research in Iowa and Wisconsin had suggested replacing leaf wetness duration with cumulative hours of relative humidity (RH) ≥97% as the weather input to the SBFS warning system. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the performance of a RH-based SBFS warning system, and to assess the potential economic benefits for its use in Iowa. The warning system was evaluated in two separate sets of trials-trial 1 during 2010 and 2011, and trial 2 during 2013-2015-using action thresholds based on cumulative hours of RH ≥97% and ≥90%, respectively, in conjunction with two different fungicide regimes. The warning system was compared with a traditional calendar-based system that specified spraying at predetermined intervals of 10 to 14 days. In trial 1, use of the RH ≥97% threshold caused substantial differences between two RH sensors in recording number of hours exceeding the threshold. When both RH thresholds were compared for 2013-2015, on average, RH ≥90% resulted in a 53% reduction in variation of cumulative hours between two identical RH sensors placed adjacent to each other in an apple tree canopy. Although both the SBFS warning system and the calendar-based system resulted in equivalent control of SBFS, the warning system required fewer fungicide sprays than the calendar-based system, with an average of 3.8 sprays per season (min = 2; max = 5) vs. 6.4 sprays per season (min = 5; max = 8), respectively. The two fungicide regimes provided equivalent SBFS control when used in conjunction with the warning system. A partial budget analysis showed that using the SBFS warning system with a threshold of RH ≥90% was cost effective for orchard sizes of >1 ha. The revised warning system has potential to become a valuable decision support tool for Midwest apple growers because it reduces fungicide costs while protecting apples as effectively as a calendar-based spray schedule. The next step toward implementation of the SBFS warning system in the North Central U.S. should be multiyear field testing in commercial orchards throughout the region.
Ganoderma boninense is a causal agent of basal stem rot (BSR) and is responsible for a significant portion of oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) losses, which can reach US$500 million a year in Southeast Asia. At the early stage of this disease, infected palms are symptomless, which imposes difficulties in detecting the disease. In spite of the availability of tissue and DNA sampling techniques, there is a particular need for replacing costly field data collection methods for detecting Ganoderma in its early stage with a technique derived from spectroscopic and imagery data. Therefore, this study was carried out to apply the artificial neural network (ANN) analysis technique for discriminating and classifying fungal infections in oil palm trees at an early stage using raw, first, and second derivative spectroradiometer datasets. These were acquired from 1,016 spectral signatures of foliar samples in four disease levels (T1: healthy, T2: mildly-infected, T3: moderately infected, and T4: severely infected). Most of the satisfactory results occurred in the visible range, especially in the green wavelength. The healthy oil palms and those which were infected by Ganoderma at an early stage (T2) were classified satisfactorily with an accuracy of 83.3%, and 100.0% in 540 to 550 nm, respectively, by ANN using first derivative spectral data. The results further indicated that the sensitive frond number modeled by ANN provided the highest accuracy of 100.0% for frond number 9 compared with frond 17. This study showed evidence that employment of ANN can predict the early infection of BSR disease on oil palm with a high degree of accuracy.
Basal stem rot (BSR), caused by the Ganoderma fungus, is an infectious disease that affects oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) plantations. BSR leads to a significant economic loss and reductions in yields of up to Malaysian Ringgit (RM) 1.5 billion (US$400 million) yearly. By 2020, the disease may affect ∼1.7 million tonnes of fresh fruit bunches. The plants appear symptomless in the early stages of infection, although most plants die after they are infected. Thus, early, accurate, and nondestructive disease detection is crucial to control the impact of the disease on yields. Terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) is an active remote-sensing, noncontact, cost-effective, precise, and user-friendly method. Through high-resolution scanning of a tree's dimension and morphology, TLS offers an accurate indicator for health and development. This study proposes an efficient image processing technique using point clouds obtained from TLS ground input data. A total of 40 samples (10 samples for each severity level) of oil palm trees were collected from 9-year-old trees using a ground-based laser scanner. Each tree was scanned four times at a distance of 1.5 m. The recorded laser scans were synched and merged to create a cluster of point clouds. An overhead two-dimensional image of the oil palm tree canopy was used to analyze three canopy architectures in terms of the number of pixels inside the crown (crown pixel), the degree of angle between fronds (frond angle), and the number of fronds (frond number). The results show that the crown pixel, frond angle, and frond number are significantly related and that the BSR severity levels are highly correlated (R2 = 0.76, P < 0.0001; R2 = 0.96, P < 0.0001; and R2 = 0.97, P < 0.0001, respectively). Analysis of variance followed post hoc tests by Student-Newman-Keuls (Newman-Keuls) and Dunnett for frond number presented the best results and showed that all levels were significantly different at a 5% significance level. Therefore, the earliest stage that a Ganoderma infection could be detected was mildly infected (T1). For frond angle, all post hoc tests showed consistent results, and all levels were significantly separated except for T0 and T1. By using the crown pixel parameter, healthy trees (T0) were separated from unhealthy trees (moderate infection [T2] and severe infection [T3]), although there was still some overlap with T1. Thus, Ganoderma infection could be detected as early as the T2 level by using the crown pixel and the frond angle parameters. It is hard to differentiate between T0 and T1, because during mild infection, the symptoms are highly similar. Meanwhile, T2 and T3 were placed in the same group, because they showed the same trend. This study demonstrates that the TLS is useful for detecting low-level infection as early as T1 (mild severity). TLS proved beneficial in managing oil palm plantation disease.
Dragon fruit or pitahaya (Hylocereus spp.) is a tropical fruit belonging to the Cactaceae. It is native to Central and South America and commercially grown in the United States in southern California, south Florida and Puerto Rico. During a disease survey from April to June 2020, stem canker was observed in greenhouses and commercial orchards located in Mayaguez and San Sebastian, Puerto Rico with an incidence of 80%. Diseased cladodes (stems) of 1 mm2 tissue sections of 23 pitahaya varieties (NOI-13, NOI-14, NOI-16, N97-15, N97-17, N97-18, N97-20, N97-22, American Beauty, Cosmic Charlie, Halley's comet, Purple Haze, Alice, Bloody Mary, Dark Star, David Bowie, Delight, Makisupa, Red Jaina, Soul Kitchen, Vietnamese Jaina, Neitzel and Lisa) were disinfested with 70% ethanol, rinsed with double distilled water and plated on potato dextrose agar (PDA) amended with 60 mg/L streptomycin. Three isolates (17B-173-T3, 12C-118-T1 and 13B-131-T2) of Neoscytalidium dimidiatum (syn. N. hyalinum) were identified using taxonomic keys (Crous et al., 2006) and sequencing of the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) with primers ITS5 and ITS4 (White et al. 1990) and translation elongation factor 1 alpha (TEF1-α) with primers EF1-728F and EF1-986R (Carbone and Kohn, 1999). Sequences were compared using the BLASTn tool with N. dimidiatum deposited in NCBI GenBank. In PDA, colonies of N. dimidiatum were initially powdery white and turned grayish-black with age. Arthroconidia (n=50) were dark brown, disarticulating, truncate or cylindrical at the base, thick-walled with 0 to 1 septum, averaging 9.1 X 5.5um in length. GenBank accession numbers of N. dimidiatum DNA sequences were MT921260, MT921261 and MT921262 for ITS and MT920898, MT920899 and MT920900 for TEF1-α. Sequences were 99-100% identical with Ex-isotype CBS145.78 accession numbers KF531816 for ITS and KF531795 for TEF1-α. Pathogenicity tests were conducted on 12 healthy dragon fruit plants of 1.5 years old using three non-detached cladodes per plant. Cladodes were inoculated with 5mm mycelial plugs from 8-day-old pure cultures grown on PDA. Three healthy dragon fruit plants were used as controls and were inoculated with PDA plugs only. The experiment was repeated once. Twenty days after inoculations (DAI), isolates of N. dimidiatum caused stem canker on dragon fruit plants. For all isolates, sunken orange spots averaged 3 X 2 mm in length at 8 DAI. Necrotic blotches with chlorotic halos averaged 10 X 15 mm at 14 DAI; stem cankers with water-soaked tissue were observed at 20 DAI, and arthroconidia and black pycnidia on dry stem cankers at 30 DAI. Untreated controls had no symptoms of stem canker, and no fungi were isolated from tissue. Neoscytalidium dimidiatum has been reported to cause stem canker on Hylocereus spp. in China, Florida, Israel, Malaysia and Taiwan (Chuang et al. 2012; Lan et al., 2012; Ezra et al., 2013; Sanahuja et al., 2016). To our knowledge, this is the first report of N. dimidiatum causing stem canker on dragon fruit in Puerto Rico. References: 1. Carbone, I., and Kohn, L. 1999. Mycologia, 91:553. doi:10.2307/3761358 2. Chuang, M. F. et al. 2012. Plant Disease 96: 906. https://doi.org/10.1094/PDIS-08-11-0689-PDN. 3. Crous, P. W., et al. 2006. Stud. Mycol. 55:235. https://doi.org/10.3114/sim.55.1.235 4. Ezra et al. 2013. Plant Disease 97: 1513. https://doi.org/10.1094/PDIS-05-13-0535-PDN 5. Lan, G.B. et al. 2012. Plant Disease 96: 1702. https://doi.org/10.1094/PDIS-07-12-0632-PDN 6. Sanahuja et al. 2016. Plant Disease 100: 1499. https://doi.org/10.1094/PDIS-11-15-1319-PDN 7. White, T., Bruns, T., Lee, S., and Taylor, J. 1990. Amplification and direct sequencing of fungal ribosomal RNA genes for phylogenetics. Pages 315-322 in: PCR Protocols: A Guide to Methods and Applications. Academic Press, San Diego, CA.
Snake gourd (Trichosanthes cucumerina L.), an annual climbing plant belonging to the family of Cucurbitaceae, is native to Southeast Asia countries, e.g., India, Pakistan, Malaysia, China, and Indonesia. It is commonly consumed as a vegetable and also used as a traditional herbal medicine due to the antidiabetic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, hepatoprotective, and cytotoxic activities (Devi 2017). In September 2020, phytoplasma-induced disease symptoms such as little leaf, yellowing, phyllody, virescence, and witches' broom were observed on snake gourd in Yunlin County, Taiwan. The cross-sectional examination of the symptomatic plant by transmission electron microscopy showed typical phytoplasma-like pleomorphic bodies with spherical, oval and tubular shapes in sieve elements. Further examination by nested PCR revealed that a 1.2 kb DNA fragment for 16S rRNA gene was only amplified from symptomatic leaf of snake gourd using the phytoplasma universal primer pairs P1/P7 followed by R16F2n/R16R2. BLAST and iPhyClassifier (https://plantpathology.ba.ars.usda.gov/cgi-bin/resource/iphyclassifier.cgi) analyses on the amplified DNA fragment (accession no. MW309142) revealed that it shares 100% identity with that of GenBank accession NZ_AMWZ01000008 (complement [31109 to 32640]) of peanut witches' broom (PnWB) phytoplasma, a 'Candidatus phytoplasma aurantifolia'-related strain (Firrao et al. 2004), and could be classified into the 16SrII-V subgroup. Samples examined by nested PCR were further characterized by western blotting using the polyclonal antibody raised against the Imp of PnWB phytoplasma (Chien et al. 2020a, b). An expected signal of 19 kDa specific for Imp was only detected in the symptomatic snake gourd, but not in healthy snake gourd. Since the disease symptoms caused by phytoplasma infection are highly dependent on the secreted effectors (Namba 2019), phyllogen gene that is responsible for phyllody and virescence symptoms was amplified from symptomatic snake gourd by PCR. BLAST analysis revealed that phyllogen identified in snake gourd is identical with that of PnWB phytoplasma. In Taiwan, species of family Cucurbitaceae such as loofah, bitter gourd, and pumpkin are commonly infected by 16SrVIII phytoplasma (Davis 2017). In this study, we report for the first time that snake gourd, a species of family Cucurbitaceae, was infected by 16SrII-V PnWB phytoplasma in Taiwan.
Weeds may act as inoculum reservoirs for fungal pathogens that could affect other economically important crops (Karimi et al. 2019). In February 2019, leaves of the ubiquitous invasive weed, Parthenium hysterophorus L. (parthenium weed) exhibiting symptom of blight were observed at Ladang Infoternak Sg. Siput (U), a state-owned livestock center in Perak, Malaysia. Symptoms appeared as irregularly shaped, brown-to-black necrotic lesions across the entire leaf visible from both surfaces, and frequently on the older leaves. The disease incidence was approximately 30% of 1,000 plants. Twenty symptomatic parthenium weed leaves were collected from several infested livestock feeding plots for pathogen isolation. The infected tissues were sectioned and surface-sterilized with 70% ethyl alcohol for 1 min, rinsed three times with sterile distilled water, transferred onto potato dextrose agar, and incubated at 25°C under continuous dark for 7 days. Microscopic observation revealed fungal colonies with similar characteristics. Mycelium was initially white and gradually changed to pale orange on the back of the plate but later turned black as sporulation began. Conidia were spherical or sub-spherical, single-celled, smooth-walled, 12 to 21 μm diameter (mean = 15.56 ± 0.42 μm, n= 30) and were borne on a hyaline vesicle. Based on morphological features, the fungus was preliminarily identified as Nigrospora sphaerica (Sacc) E. W. Mason (Wang et al. 2017). To confirm identity, molecular identification was conducted using isolate 1SS which was selected as a representative isolate from the 20 isolates obtained. Genomic DNA was extracted from mycelia using a SDS-based extraction method (Xia et al. 2019). Amplification of the rDNA internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region was conducted with universal primer ITS1/ITS4 (White et al. 1990; Úrbez-Torres et al. 2008). The amplicon served as a template for Sanger sequencing conducted at a commercial service provider (Apical Scientific, Malaysia). The generated sequence trace data was analyzed with BioEdit v7.2. From BLASTn analysis, the ITS sequence (GenBank accession number. MN339998) had at least 99% nucleotide identity to that of N. sphaerica (GenBank accession number. MK108917). Pathogenicity was confirmed by spraying the leaf surfaces of 12 healthy parthenium weed plants (2-months-old) with a conidial suspension (106 conidia per ml) collected from a 7 day-old culture. Another 12 plants served as a control treatment and received only sterile distilled water. Inoculation was done 2 h before sunset and the inoculated plants were covered with plastic bags for 24 h to promote conidial germination. All plants were maintained in a glasshouse (24 to 35°C) for the development of the disease. After 7 days, typical leaf blight symptoms developed on the inoculated plants consistent with the symptoms observed in the field. The pathogen was re-isolated from the diseased leaves and morphological identification revealed the same characteristics as the original isolate with 100% re-isolation frequency, thus, fulfilling Koch's postulates. All leaves of the control plants remained symptomless and the experiment was repeated twice. In Malaysia, the incidence of N. sphaerica as a plant pathogen has been recorded on several important crops such as watermelon and dragon fruit (Kee et al. 2019; Ismail and Abd Razak 2021). To our knowledge, this is the first report of leaf blight on P. hysterophorus caused by N. sphaerica from this country. This report justifies the significant potential of P. hysterophorus as an alternative weed host for the distribution of N. sphaerica. Acknowledgement This research was funded by Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM/GP-IPB/2017/9523402). References Ismail, S. I., and Abd Razak, N. F. 2021. Plant Dis. 105:488. Karimi, K., et al. 2019. Front Microbiol. 10:19. Kee, Y. J., et al. 2019. Crop Prot. 122:165. Úrbez-Torres, J. R., et al. 2008. Plant Dis. 92:519. Wang, M., et al. 2017. Persoonia 39:118. White, T. J. et al. 1990. Page 315 in: PCR Protocols: A Guide to Methods and Applications. Academic Press, San Diego, CA. Xia, Y., et al. 2019. Biosci Rep. 39:BSR20182271.
Guava (Psidium guajava L.) is an economically important tropical fruit crop and is cultivated extensively in Malaysia. In September and October 2019, postharvest fruit rot symptoms were observed on 30% to 40% of guava fruit cv. Kampuchea in fruit markets of Puchong and Ipoh cities in the states of Selangor and Perak, Malaysia. Initial symptoms appeared as brown, irregular, water-soaked lesions on the upper portion of the fruit where it was attached to the peduncle. Subsequently, lesions then progressed to cover the whole fruit (Fig.1A). Lesions were covered with an abundance of black pycnidia and grayish mycelium. Ten symptomatic guava fruit were randomly collected from two local markets for our investigation. For fungal isolation, small fragments (5×5 mm) were excised from the lesion margin, surface sterilized with 0.5% NaOCl for 2 min, rinsed three times with sterile distilled water, placed on potato dextrose agar (PDA) and incubated at 25 °C with 12-h photoperiod for 2-3 days. Eight single-spore isolates with similar morphological characteristics were obtained and two representative isolates (P8 and S9) were characterized in depth. Colonies on PDA were initially composed of grayish-white aerial mycelium, but turned dark-gray after 7 days (Fig. 1B). Abundant black pycnidia were observed after incubation for 4 weeks. Immature conidia were hyaline, aseptate, ellipsoid, thick-walled, and mature conidia becoming dark brown and 1-septate with longitudinal striations, 25.0 - 27.0 ± 2.5 × 13.0 - 14.0 ± 1.0 μm (n = 30) (Fig.1C, D). On the basis of morphology, both representative isolates were identified as Lasiodiplodia theobromae (Pat.) Griffon & Maubl. (Alves et al. 2008). For molecular identification, genomic DNA of the two isolates was extracted using the DNeasy plant mini kit (Qiagen, USA). The internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region of rDNA and translation elongation factor 1-alpha (EF1-α) genes were amplified using ITS5/ITS4 and EF1-728F/EF1-986R primer set, respectively (White et al. 1990, Carbone and Kohn 1999). BLASTn analysis of the resulting ITS and EF1-α sequences indicated 100% identity to L. theobromae ex-type strain CBS 164.96 (GenBank accession nos: AY640255 and AY640258, respectively) (Phillips et al. 2013). The ITS (MW380428, MW380429) and EF1-α (MW387153, MW387154) sequences were deposited in GenBank. Phylogenetic analysis using the maximum likelihood based on the combined ITS-TEF sequences indicated that the isolates formed a strongly supported clade (100% bootstrap value) to the related L. theobromae (Kumar et al. 2016) (Fig.2). A pathogenicity test of two isolates was conducted on six healthy detached guava fruits per isolate. The fruit were surface sterilized using 70% ethanol and rinsed twice with sterile water prior inoculation. The fruit were wound-inoculated using a sterile needle according to the method of de Oliveira et al. (2014) and five-mm-diameter mycelial agar plugs from 7-days-old PDA culture of the isolates were placed onto the wounds. Six additional fruit were wound inoculated using sterile 5-mm-diameter PDA agar plugs to serve as controls. Inoculated fruit were placed in sterilized plastic container and incubated in a growth chamber at 25 ± 1 °C, 90% relative humidity with a photoperiod of 12-h. The experiment was conducted twice. Five days after inoculation, symptoms as described above developed on the inoculated sites and caused a fruit rot, while control treatment remained asymptomatic. L. theobromae was reisolated from all symptomatic tissues and confirmed by morphological characteristics and confirmed by PCR using ITS region. L. theobromae has recently been reported to cause fruit rot on rockmelon in Thailand (Suwannarach et al. 2020). To our knowledge, this is the first report of L. theobromae causing postharvest fruit rot on guava in Malaysia. The occurrence of this disease needs to be monitored as this disease can reduce the marketable yield of guava. Preventive strategies need to be developed in the field to reduce postharvest losses.
Plumeria alba L. is a flowering plant in the family Apocynaceae and widely cultivated in Malaysia as a cosmopolitan ornamental plant. In January 2020, anthracnose lesions were observed on leaves of Plumeria alba planted in Agricultural Farm, Universiti Putra Malaysia, in Selangor state, Malaysia. The disease mainly affected the leaves with symptoms occurring with approximately a 60% disease incidence. Ten symptomatic leaves were sampled from 3 different trees in the farm. Symptoms initiated as small circular necrotic spots that rapidly enlarged into black lesions with pale brown borders. Diseased tissues (5×5 mm) were surface-sterilized with 70% ethanol for 1 min, rinsed three times with sterile distilled water, dried on sterile filter papers, plated on PDA and, incubated at 25 °C with a 12-h photoperiod. A total of seven single-spore isolates with similar colony morphologies were obtained from tissue samples. After 7 days, the colonies raised the entire margin and showed white-to-gray aerial mycelium, orange conidial masses in the center and appeared dark brown at the center of the reverse view. The conidia were 1-celled, hyaline, smooth-walled, cylindrical with narrowing at the center, averaged (13-15 μm × 3 - 4 μm) (n=40) in size. Morphological characteristics of the isolates were similar to those detailed in taxonomic description of Colletotrichum sp. (Prihastuti et al. 2009). For molecular identification, genomic DNA of two representative isolates, PL3 and PL4 was extracted from fresh mycelium using DNeasy Plant Mini Kit (Qiagen, USA). The internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region, actin (ACT) and calmodulin (CAL) genes were amplified using ITS5/ITS4 (White et al. 1990), ACT-512F/783R (Carbone and Kohn 1999) and CL1C/CL2C primer sets (Weir et al. 2012). A BLAST nucleotide search of GenBank using ITS sequences showed 100% identity to Colletotrichum siamense ex-type culture ICMP 18578 (GenBank accession no. JX010171). ACT and CAL sequences showed 100% identity with C. siamense ex-type isolate BPD-I2 (GenBank accession no. FJ907423 and FJ917505). The sequences were deposited in GenBank (ITS: accession nos. MW335128, MT912574), ACT: accession nos. MW341257, MW341256, CAL: accession nos. MW341255 and MT919260). Based on these morphological and molecular characteristics, the fungus was identified as C. siamense. Pathogenicity of PL3 and PL4 isolates was verified using four healthy detached leaves of Plumeria alba. The leaves were surface-sterilized using 70% ethanol and rinsed twice with sterile water before inoculation. The leaves (three inoculation sites/leaf) were wounded by puncturing with a sterile needle through the leaf cuticle and inoculated in the wound site with 10-μl of conidial suspension (1×106 conidia/ml) from 7-days-old culture on PDA. Four leaves were used as a control and were inoculated only with 10-μl of sterile distilled water. Inoculated leaves were kept in humid chambers for 2 weeks at 25 °C with 98% relative humidity on a 12-h fluorescent light/dark period. The experiment was repeated three times. Anthracnose symptoms were observed on all inoculated leaves after 3 days, whereas controls showed no symptoms. Fungal isolates from the diseased leaves showed the same morphological characteristics as isolates PL3 and PL4, confirming Koch's postulates. C. siamense has been reported causing anthracnose on rose (Rosa chinensis) in China (Feng et al. 2019), Coffea arabica in Thailand (Prihastuti et al. 2009) and mango leaf anthracnose in Vietnam (Li et al. 2020). To our knowledge, this is the first report of Colletrotrichum siamense causing leaf anthracnose on Plumeria alba in Malaysia. Accurate identification of this pathogen provides a foundation in controlling anthracnose disease on Plumeria alba.
Thai basil (Ocimum basilicum L.) is widely cultivated in Malaysia and commonly used for culinary purposes. In March 2019, necrotic lesions were observed on the inflorescences of Thai basil plants with a disease incidence of 60% in Organic Edible Garden Unit, Faculty of Agriculture in the Serdang district (2°59'05.5"N 101°43'59.5"E) of Selangor province, Malaysia. Symptoms appeared as sudden, extensive brown spotting on the inflorescences of Thai basil that coalesced and rapidly expanded to cover the entire inflorescences. Diseased tissues (4×4 mm) were cut from the infected lesions, surface disinfected with 0.5% NaOCl for 1 min, rinsed three times with sterile distilled water, placed onto potato dextrose agar (PDA) plates and incubated at 25°C under 12-h photoperiod for 5 days. A total of 8 single-spore isolates were obtained from all sampled inflorescence tissues. The fungal colonies appeared white, turned grayish black with age and pale yellow on the reverse side. Conidia were one-celled, hyaline, subcylindrical with rounded end and 3 to 4 μm (width) and 13 to 15 μm (length) in size. For fungal identification to species level, genomic DNA of representative isolate (isolate C) was extracted using DNeasy Plant Mini Kit (Qiagen, USA). Internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region, calmodulin (CAL), actin (ACT), and chitin synthase-1 (CHS-1) were amplified using ITS5/ITS4 (White et al. 1990), CL1C/CL2C (Weir et al. 2012), ACT-512F/783R, and CHS-79F/CHS-345R primer sets (Carbone and Kohn 1999), respectively. A BLAST nucleotide search of ITS, CHS-1, CAL and ACT sequences showed 100% similarity to Colletotrichum siamense ex-type cultures strain C1315.2 (GenBank accession nos. ITS: JX010171 and CHS-1: JX009865) and isolate BPDI2 (CAL: FJ917505, ACT: FJ907423). The ITS, CHS-1, CAL and ACT sequences were deposited in GenBank as accession numbers MT571330, MW192791, MW192792 and MW140016. Pathogenicity was confirmed by spraying a spore suspension (1×106 spores/ml) of 7-day-old culture of isolate C onto 10 healthy inflorescences on five healthy Thai basil plants. Ten infloresences from an additional five control plants were only sprayed with sterile distilled water and the inoculated plants were covered with plastic bags for 2 days and maintained in a greenhouse at 28 ± 1°C, 98% relative humidity with a photoperiod of 12-h. Blossom blight symptoms resembling those observed in the field developed after 7 days on all inoculated inflorescences, while inflorescences on control plants remained asymptomatic. The experiment was repeated twice. C. siamense was successfully re-isolated from the infected inflorescences fulfilling Koch's postulates. C. siamense has been reported causing blossom blight of Uraria in India (Srivastava et al. 2017), anthracnose on dragon fruit in India and fruits of Acca sellowiana in Brazil (Abirami et al. 2019; Fantinel et al. 2017). This pathogen can cause a serious threat to cultivation of Thai basil and there is currently no effective disease management strategy to control this disease. To our knowledge, this is the first report of blossom blight caused by C. siamense on Thai basil in Malaysia.
Repeated sampling conducted from December 2019 to March 2020, and fruit of pineapple (Ananas comosus) var MD2 showing early stem end rot symptoms including brown and rotten fruit skin near the stem end region (Fig.1Aa) or darker skin with black discoloration (Fig.1Ab) indicated a consistent fungal infection. The samples (30 fruits from each location) were collected from store houses in three farmer fields with 60% disease incidence in Serdang, (3.0220oN,101.7055oE), Selangor, West Malaysia. The pulp of infected fruits appeared watery with characteristic spoilage odour. Symptomatic necrotic tissues from stem end region and skin were cut in to pieces (1x1cm), surface sterilized and plated onto potato dextrose agar amended aseptically with 0.5 g L-1 streptomycin sulphate. The plates were incubated at room temperature (28±2oC) in natural light conditions. Five days old cultures were light grey in colour and gradually turned dark brown to black with dense deeply tufted, mycelium as the culture aged (Fig.1B, C). Conidial morphology was observed using compound microscope (Olympus model BX-50F4, Tokyo, Japan) equipped with Dino-Eye. Branched mycelia with 0-1 septate arthospores were evident in 14 days old cultures (Fig.1D). Measured arthroconidia (5 to10x3 to 4.5µm) were ellipsoid to ovoid or round shaped, hyaline with an acutely rounded apex, truncate base, initially aseptate (Fig.1E) and arranged as chain at maturity (Fig.1F). The pathogen was identified through PCR amplification of the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region using ITS1 and ITS4 primers (White et al., 1990) and BLASTn homology search as Neoscytalidium dimidiatum based on 100% similarity to a reference sequence (accession number KJ648577) that was previously deposited (Mohd et al.,2013). The sequence was deposited in Gen Bank ( accession number MW082810). Pathogenicity test was performed using the mycelial plug inoculation method and repeated twice with five replicates. Healthy MD2 pineapple fruits were surface sterilized with 1% NaOCl solution for15 min. followed by washing with sterilized distilled water. One centimeter diameter PDA plug at the margin of actively growing seven days old cultures were inserted in each of two inoculation wounds made on the skin and stem end of each fruit then the wounds were wrapped with moist cotton wool. Non-colonized PDA plugs were used to inoculate the control fruits. Fruits were incubated under 85% RH at room temperature. Five days after inoculation, the fruits showed similar dark necrotic discoloration and confirmed as N.dimidiatum by PCR (Fig.1G). The Koch postulates were fulfilled by inoculation and re-isolation of the fungal pathogen. This pathogen has also been reported previously to cause economic losses on a number of other hosts, such as pitayah fruits in Israel and Malaysia (Erza et al., 2013; Mohd et al., 2013)) and almond in California (Mohomed et al., 2018). To our knowledge this is the first report of N. dimidiatum causing postharvest stem end rot on MD2 pineapple in Malaysia. It may have the possibility to develop postharvest economic losses to pineapple industry, if severely affected fruits with high population of the pathogen left unattended in store houses.
Rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis (Willd. ex Adr. Juss) Müll. Arg.) is used for the extraction of natural rubber and is an economically and socially important estate crop commodity in many Asian countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, China and several countries in Africa (Pu et al, 2007). Xishuangbanna City and Wenshan City are the main rubber cultivation areas in Yunnan Province, China. In November 2012, rubber tree showing typical wilt symptoms (Fig. 1 A) and vascular stains (Fig. 1 B) were found in Mengla County, Xishuangbanna City. This disease was destructive in these trees and plant wilt death rate reached 5%. The diseased wood pieces (0.5cm long) from trunk of rubber was surface disinfected with 75% ethanol for 30s and 0.1% mercuric chloride (HgCl2) for 2min, rinsed three times with sterile distilled water, plated onto malt extract agar medium (MEA), and incubated at 28℃. After 7 days, fungal-like filaments were growing from the diseased trunk. Six cultures from 6 rubber trunk were obtained and incubated on MEA at 28℃, after 7 days to observe the cultural features. The mycelium of each culture was white initially on MEA, and then became dark green. Cylindrical endoconidia apices rounded, non-septate, smooth, single or borne in chains (8.9 to 23.6 × 3.81 to 6.3μm) (Fig. 1 C). Chlamydospores (Fig. 1 D) were abundant, thick walled, smooth, forming singly or in chains (11.1 to 19.2 × 9.4 to 12.0μm). The mould fungus was identifed as Chalaropsis based on morphology (Paulin-Mahady et al. 2002). PCR amplification was carried out for 3 isolates, using rDNA internal transcribed spacer (ITS) primer pairs ITS1F and ITS4 (Thorpe et al. 2005). The nucleotide sequences were deposited in the GenBank data base and used in a Blast search of GenBank. Blast analysis of sequenced isolates XJm8-2-6, XJm8-2 and XJm10-2-6 (accessions KJ511486, KJ511487, KJ511489 respectively) had 99% identity to Ch. thielavioides strains hy (KF356186) and C1630 (AF275491). Thus the pathogen was identified as Ch. thielavioides based on morphological characteristics and rDNA-ITS sequence analysis. Pathogenicity test of the isolate (XJm8-2) was conducted on five 1-year-old rubber seedlings. The soil of 5 rubber seedlings was inoculated by drenching with 40 ml spore suspension (106 spores / ml). Five control seedlings were inoculated with 40 ml of sterile distilled water. All the seedlings were maintained in a controlled greenhouse at 25°C and watered weekly. After inoculated 6 weeks, all the seedlings with spore suspension produced wilt symptoms, as disease progressed, inoculated leaves withered (Fig. 1 E) and vascular stains (Fig. 1 F) by 4 months. While control seedlings inoculated with sterile distilled water remained healthy. The pathogen re-isolated from all inoculated symptomatic trunk was identical to the isolates by morphology and ITS analysis. But no pathogen was isolated from the control seedlings. The pathogenicity assay showed that Ch. thielavioides was pathogenic to rubber trees. Blight caused on rubber tree by Ceratocystis fimbriata previously in Brazil (Valdetaro et al. 2015), and wilt by Ch. thielavioides was not reported. The asexual states of most species in Ceratocystis are "chalara" or "thielaviopsis" (de Beer et al. 2014). To our knowledge, this is the first report of this fungus causing wilt of rubber in China. The spread of this disease may pose a threat to rubber production in China.
Euphorbia tithymaloides L. (zig-zag plant) is a succulent, perennial shrub belonging to the Euphorbiaceae family and is widely cultivated in Malaysia for ornamental purposes and commercial values. In June 2019, typical symptoms of powdery mildew were observed on over 50% of the leaves of E. tithymaloides in a garden at Universiti Putra Malaysia, Serdang city of Selangor province, Malaysia. Initial symptoms included circular to irregular white powdery fungal colonies on both leaf surfaces and later covered the entire leaf surface. Severely infected leaves became necrotic, distorted and senesced. A voucher specimen Ma (PM001-Ma) was deposited in the Mycology laboratory, Faculty of Agriculture, UPM. Microscopic observation showed hyphae hyaline, branched, thin-walled, smooth, 3 to 6 µm wide with nipple-shaped appressoria. Conidiophores were straight, measured 30 to 90 μm long × 8 to 12 μm wide and composed of a cylindrical foot cell, 50 to 75 μm long. Conidia formed in chains were hyaline, ellipsoid to oval with fibrosin bodies, measured 25 to 36 × 16 to 20.1 μm in size and chasmothecia were not observed on the infected leaves. Genomic DNA was directly isolated from mycelia and conidia of isolate Ma using DNeasy Plant Mini Kit (Qiagen, USA). The universal primer pair ITS4/ITS5 of rDNA (White et al. 1990) was used for amplification and the resulting 569-bp sequence was deposited in GenBank (Accession no. MT704550). A BLAST nucleotide search revealed 100% similarity with that of Podosphaera xanthii on Momordica charantia wild from Taiwan (Accession no. KM505135) (Kirschner and Liu 2015). Both the morphological characteristics of the anamorph and ITS sequence data support the identification of this powdery mildew on E. tithymaloides as Podosphaera xanthii (Castagne) U. Braun & Shishkoff (Braun and Cook 2012). A pathogenicity test was conducted by gently pressing the infected leaves onto young leaves of five healthy potted plants. Five noninoculated plants were used as controls. The inoculated plants were maintained in a greenhouse at 25 ± 2°C and the test was repeated. Seven days after inoculation, white powdery symptoms were observed similar to those on the naturally infected leaves, while control plants remained asymptomatic. The fungus on the inoculated leaves was morphologically and molecularly identical to the fungus on the original specimens. Sequence alignments were made using MAFFT v.7.0 (Katoh et al. 2019) and a maximum likelihood phylogram was generated by MEGA v.7.0 (Kumar et al. 2016). Isolate Ma grouped in a strongly supported clade (100% bootstrap value) with the related species of P. xanthii available in GenBank based on the ITS region. Powdery mildew caused by P. xanthii has been reported as a damaging disease that can infect a broad range of plants worldwide (Farr and Rossman 2020). It also has been recently reported on Sonchus asper in China (Shi et al. 2020). According to our knowledge, this is the first report of powdery mildew caused by P. xanthii on E. tithymaloides worldwide. The occurrence of powdery mildew on E. tithymaloides could pose a serious threat to the health of this plant, resulting in death and premature senescence of young leaves.
Sooty blotch and flyspeck (SBFS) is a fungal disease complex that can cause significant economic losses to apple growers by blemishing the fruit surface with dark-colored colonies. Little is known about the phenology of host infection for this diverse group of epiphytes. In 2009 and 2010, we investigated the timing of infection of apple fruit by SBFS species in six commercial apple orchards in Iowa. Five trees in each orchard received no fungicide sprays after fruit set. Within 3 weeks after fruit set, 60 apples per tree were covered with Japanese fruit bags to minimize inoculum deposition. Subsequently, a subsample of bagged apples was exposed for a single 2-week-long period and then rebagged for the remainder of the growing season. Experimental treatments included seven consecutive 2-week-long exposure periods; control treatments were apples that were either bagged or exposed for the entire season. After apples had been stored at 2°C for 6 weeks following harvest, all SBFS colonies on the apples were identified to species using a PCR-RFLP protocol. A total of 15 species were identified. For the seven most prevalent species, the number of infections per cm2 of fruit surface was greatest on apples that had been exposed early in the season. Two SBFS species, Peltaster fructicola and Colletogloeopsis-like FG2, differed significantly from each other in time required to attain 50% of the total number of colonies per apple, and analysis of variance indicated a significant interaction of SBFS taxon with exposure period. Our findings are the first evidence of species-specific patterns in timing of SBFS inoculum deposition and infection on apple fruit, and strengthen previous observations that most SBFS infections resulting in visible colonies at harvest develop from infections that occur early in the fruit development period. By defining taxon-specific phenological patterns of fruit infection, our findings, when combined with knowledge of region-specific patterns of taxon prevalence, provide a foundation for development of more efficient and cost-effective SBFS management tactics.
On May 9, 2013, symptoms reminiscent of bacterial leaf streak (BLS) caused by Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzicola were observed on rice plants at the panicle emergence stage at Musenyi, Gihanga, and Rugombo fields in Burundi. Affected leaves showed water-soaked translucent lesions and yellow-brown to black streaks, sometimes with visible exudates on leaf surfaces. Symptomatic leaves were ground in sterile water and the suspensions obtained were subjected to a multiplex PCR assay diagnostic for X. oryzae pathovars (3). Three DNA fragments (331, 691, and 945 bp) corresponding to X. oryzae pv. oryzicola were observed after agarose gel electrophoresis. Single bacterial colonies were then isolated from surface-sterilized, infected leaves after grinding in sterile water and plating of 10-fold dilutions of the cell suspension on semi-selective PSA medium (4). After incubation at 28°C for 5 days, each of four independent cultures yielded single yellow, mucoid Xanthomonas-like colonies (named Bur_1, Bur_2, Bur_6, and Bur_7) that resembled the positive control strain MAI10 (1). These strains originated from Musenyi (Bur_1), Gihanga (Bur_2), and Rugumbo (Bur_6 and Bur_7). Multiplex PCR assays on the four putative X. oryzae pv. oryzicola strains yielded the three diagnostic DNA fragments mentioned above. All strains were further analyzed by sequence analysis of portions of the gyrB gene using the universal primers gyrB1-F and gyrB1-R for PCR amplification (5). The 762-bp DNA fragment was identical to gyrB sequences from the Asian X. oryzae pv. oryzicola strains BLS256 (Philippines), ICMP 12013 (China), LMG 797 and NCPPB 2921 (both Malaysia), and from the African strain MAI3 (Mali) (2). The partial nucleotide sequence of the gyrB gene of Bur_1 was submitted to GenBank (Accession No. KJ801400). Pathogenicity tests were performed on greenhouse-grown 4-week-old rice plants of the cvs. Nipponbare, Azucena, IRBB 1, IRBB 2, IRBB 3, IRBB 7, FKR 14, PNA64F4-56, TCS 10, Gigante, and Adny 11. Bacterial cultures were grown overnight in PSA medium and re-suspended in sterile water (1 × 108 CFU/ml). Plants were inoculated with bacterial suspensions either by spraying or by leaf infiltration (1). For spray inoculation, four plants per accession and strain were used while three leaves per plant and four plants per accession and strain were inoculated by tissue infiltration. After 15 days of incubation in a BSL-3 containment facility (27 ± 1°C with a 12-h photoperiod), the spray-inoculated plants showed water-soaked lesions with yellow exudates identical to those seen in the field. For syringe-infiltrated leaves, the same symptoms were observed at the infiltrated leaf area. Re-isolation of bacteria from symptomatic leaves yielded colonies with the typical Xanthomonas morphology that were confirmed by multiplex PCR to be X. oryzae pv. oryzicola, thus fulfilling Koch's postulates. Bur_1 has been deposited in the Collection Française de Bactéries Phytopathogènes as strain CFBP 8170 ( http://www.angers-nantes.inra.fr/cfbp/ ). To our knowledge, this is the first report of X. oryzae pv. oryzicola causing bacterial leaf streak on rice in Burundi. Further surveys will help to assess its importance in the country. References: (1) C. Gonzalez et al., Mol. Plant Microbe Interact. 20:534, 2007. (2) A. Hajri et al. Mol. Plant Pathol. 13:288, 2012. (3) J. M. Lang et al. Plant Dis. 94:311, 2010. (4) L. Poulin et al. Plant Dis. 98:1423, 2014. (5) J. M. Young et al. Syst. Appl. Microbiol. 31:366, 2008.
Clausena lansium, also known as wampee (Clausena wampi), is a plant species native to China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia, where it is widely cultivated, and also grown in India, Sri Lanka, Queensland, Florida, and Hawaii, but less frequently (3). The fruit can be consumed fresh or made into juice, jam, or succade. In summer to fall 2014, a soft rot disease was found in a wampee planting region in Yunan County, Guangdong Province, China. On Sept. 18, we collected diseased samples from a wampee orchard with about 20% disease incidence. The infected fruit initially showed pinpoint spots on the peel, water-soaked lesions, and light to dark brown discoloration. Spots expanded in 2 days, and tissues collapsed after 5 days. Severely affected fruit showed cracking or nonodorous decay. Five diseased samples were collected, and causal agents were isolated from symptomatic tissues 1 cm under the peel after surface sterilization in 0.3% NaOCl for 10 min and rinsing in sterile water three times. Tissues were placed on a Luria Bertani (LB) plate for culture. Ten representative isolates were selected for further characterization. No colony was isolated from healthy tissues. Colonies were round, smooth, with irregular edges, and produced a yellow pigment in culture. Biolog identification (Version 4.20.05) showed that all strains were gram negative, negative for indole production, and utilized glucose, maltose, trehalose, sucrose, D-lactose, and pectin but not sorbitol or gelatin. The isolates were identified as Pantoea agglomerans (SIM 0.69). Multilocus sequence analysis (MLSA) was conducted for rapid classification of the strains. Sequences of atpD, gyrB, infB, and rpoB were amplified using corresponding primers (2). All sequences of the 10 isolates were identical in each gene. BLASTn was performed, and maximum likelihood trees based on the concatenated nucleotide sequences of the four genes were constructed using MEGA6. Bootstrap values after 1,000 replicates were expressed as percentages. Results showed that the tested strain named CL1 was most homologous to P. anthophila, with 98% identity for atpD (KM521543), 100% for gyrB (KM521544), infB (KM521545), and rpoB (KM521546). The 16S rRNA sequence (KM521542) amplified by primers 27f and 1492r shared 99% identity with that of P. anthophila M19_2C (JN644500). P. anthophila was previously reclassified from P. agglomerans (3); therefore, we suggest naming this wampee pathogen P. anthophila. Subsequently, 10 wampee fruits were injected with 20 μl of bacterial suspension (1 × 108 CFU/ml) of strains CL1 and CL2, respectively, and another 10 were injected with 20 μl of LB medium as controls, all kept at 28°C for 4 days. Symptoms similar to those of natural infections were observed on inoculated fruits but not on the negative controls. Bacteria were isolated from diseased tissues and further identified as P. anthophila by gyrB sequencing. P. anthophila was reported to naturally infect balsam and marigold (1,2). To our knowledge, this is the first report of P. anthophila naturally causing soft rot disease and cracking on C. lansium (wampee). References: (1) C. Brady et al. Syst. Appl. Microbiol. 31:447, 2008. (2) C. Brady et al. Int. J. Syst. Evol. Microbiol. 59:2339, 2009. (3) J. Morton. Fruits of Warm Climates. Echo Point Books & Media, Miami, FL, 1987.
Madagascar periwinkle, Catharanthus roseus (L.) G. Don, is a member of the Apocynaceae plant family that is native to Madagascar and produces dimeric terpenoid indole alkaloids that are used in the treatment of hypertension and cancer. Periwinkle as an indicator plant is highly susceptible to phytoplasmas and spiroplasma infection from different crops, and has been found to be naturally infected with spiroplasmas in Arizona, California, and the Mediterranean countries. In this study, surveys of suspected diseased periwinkles were conducted in various regions of Selangor State, Malaysia. Periwinkles showing rapid decline in the number and size of the flowers, premature abscission of buds and flowers, reduction in leaf size, chlorosis of the leaf tips and margins, general chlorosis, and stunting and dying plants were collected. These symptoms were widespread on periwinkle in this state. Diagnosis of the disease was based on symptomatology, grafting, serology (ELISA), PCR techniques, and cultivation. Tests for transmission by grafting were conducted using symptomatic periwinkle plants. Symptoms were induced on all eight graft-inoculated healthy periwinkles approximately 2 weeks after side grafting. Preliminary examination was performed by ELISA with Spiroplasma citri Saglio polyclonal antibody that was prepared against an Iranian S. citri isolate (H. Rahimian, unpublished data). Leaf extracts of all 24 symptomatic periwinkles gave positive ELISA reactions at OD405 readings ranging from 0.310 to 0.654 to the antibody against S. citri by the indirect ELISA method. Six healthy periwinkle leaves gave OD405 readings around 0.128. Total nucleic acids were extracted from 10 symptomatic and 5 asymptomatic plants (4). PCR using the ScR16F1/ScR16R1 primer pair designed to detect S. citri in carrot and P1/P7 and secA for1/rev3 primer pairs designed for identification of phytoplasmas were used to detect the causal agent (1-3). Amplification failed when the P1/P7 universal phytoplasma primer pair was used for diseased samples. However, the PCR assays resulted in products of 1,833 and 800 bp with ScR16F1/ScR16R1 and secA for1/rev3, respectively. Five of each ScR16F1/ScR16R1 and SecAfor1/SecArev3 products were cloned with the Topo TA cloning kit (Invitrogen, Carlsbad, CA), sequenced, and deposited as GenBank Accession Nos. HM015669 and FJ011099, respectively. Sequences for both genes indicated that S. citri was associated with the disease on periwinkle. ScR16F1/ScR16R1 products cloned from symptomatic periwinkles had 98% sequence identity with S. citri (GenBank Accession No. AM285316), while nucleotide sequences of SecAfor1/SecArev3 products had 88% sequence identity with S. citri GII3-3X (GenBank Accession No. AM285304). S. citri was cultivated from 10 S. citri-infected periwinkles using filtration and SP-4 media. Twenty culture tubes started to change culture medium color from red to yellow 1 month after cultivation. Helical and motile S. citri was observed in the dark-field microscope. To our knowledge, this is the first report on the presence and occurrence of S. citri in Southeast Asia and its association with lethal yellows on periwinkle in Malaysia. References: (1) J. Hodgetts et al. Int. J. Syst. Evol. Microbiol. 58:1826, 2008. (2) I.-M. Lee et al. Phytopathology 85:728, 1995. (3) I.-M. Lee et al. Plant Dis. 90:989, 2006. (4) Y.-P. Zhang et al. J. Virol. Methods. 71:45, 1998.
Cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.) is one of the most important vegetable fruits in Malaysia. Cucumber is principally grown in the states of Johor, Kelantan, and Perak. The broad host range Enterobacteriaceae pathogen, Pectobacterium carotovorum, can cause soft rot on stems or cucumber fruit. In Malaysia, cucumber is produced in a warm, humid climate, thus the plant is susceptible to attack by P. carotovorum at any time during production. In 2010, cucumber samples with wilted and chlorotic leaves, water-soaked lesions, and collapsed fruits were found in multiple fields. Small pieces of infected stems and fruit were immersed in 5 ml of saline solution (0.85% NaCl) for 20 min and then 50 μl of this suspension was spread onto nutrient agar (NA) and incubated at 27°C for 24 h. White-to-pale gray colonies with irregular margins were selected for analysis. For pathogenicity tests, cucumber fruits were surface sterilized by ethyl alcohol 70%, washed with sterilized distilled water, cut into small pieces, and inoculated with 20 μl of 108 CFU/ml suspensions of five representative strains. Cucumber plants were grown for 3 weeks in sterilized soil and their stems were inoculated with 20 μl of 108 CFU/ml of bacterial suspension. Inoculated samples and control (noninoculated) plants were placed in a growth chamber with 80 to 90% relative humidity at 27°C. Symptoms occurred on fruit slices and stems after 1 to 3 days and appeared the same as naturally infected samples, but the control samples remained healthy. Koch's postulates were fulfilled with the reisolation of cultures with the same characteristics as described earlier. Hypersensitivity reaction (HR) assays were done by infiltrating 108 CFU/ml of bacterial suspension into tobacco leaf epidermis and HR developed. All strains were subjected to biochemical and morphological assays, as well as molecular assessment. The strains were gram negative, facultative anaerobes, rod shaped, able to macerate potato slices and growth at 37°C; catalase positive; oxidase and phosphatase negative; able to degrade pectate; sensitive to erythromycin; negative for utilization of α-methyl glycoside, indole production, and reduction of sugars from sucrose; acid production from arabitol, sorbitol, and utilization of citrate were negative, but positive for raffinose and melibiose utilization. PCR amplification of the pel gene by Y1 and Y2 primers produced a 434-bp fragment on agarose gel 1% (1). Amplification of intergenic transcribed spacer region by G1 and L1 primers gave two main bands at approximately 535 and 580 bp on agarose gel 1.5%. The ITS-PCR products were digested with RsaI restriction enzyme (3). On the basis of biochemical and morphological characteristics, PCR-based pel gene and characterization of the ITS region, and digestion of the ITS-PCR products with RsaI restriction enzyme, all isolates were identified as P. carotovorum subsp. carotovorum. To our knowledge, this is the first report of soft rot caused by P. carotovorum subsp. carotovorum on cucumber from Malaysia. References: (1) A. Darraas et al. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 60:1437, 1994. (2) N. W Schaad et al. Laboratory Guide for the Identification of Plant Pathogenic Bacteria. 3rd ed. The American Phytopathological Society Press, St. Paul, 2001. (3) I. K. Toth et al. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 67:4070, 2001.