The biodegradation characteristics of palm oil mill effluent (POME) and the related microbial community were studied in both actual sequential anaerobic ponds in Malaysia and enrichment cultures. The significant degradation of the POME was observed in the second pond, in which the temperature was 35-37 °C. In this pond, biodegradation of major long chain fatty acids (LCFA), such as palmitic acid (C16:0) and oleic acid (C18:1), was also confirmed. The enrichment culture experiment was conducted with different feeding substrates, i.e. POME, C16:0 and C18:1, at 35 °C. Good recovery of methane indicated biodegradation of feeds in the POME and C16:0 enrichments. The methane production rate of the C18:1 enrichment was slower than other substrates and inhibition of methanogenesis was frequently observed. Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) analyses indicated the existence of LCFA-degrading bacteria, such as the genus Syntrophus and Syntorophomonas, in all enrichment cultures operated at 35 °C. Anaerobic degradation of the POME under mesophilic conditions was stably processed as compared with thermophilic conditions.
During March 2007, a fruit rot disease was observed in several loquat (Eriobotrya japonica (Thunberg) Lindley) fields located in Taichung, Nantou, and Miaoli counties. Loquat is a valuable fruit crop grown predominantly in central Taiwan, and hence, even a minor yield loss by this new disease is economically significant. Symptoms on fruits initially appeared as small lesions (<1 mm) that later developed into light-to-dark brown, circular, larger (7 mm), sunken lesions, indicating invasion of a pathogen into the fruit. Pieces of rotted fruit tissue (1 × 1 × 1 mm) were immersed for 1 min in 3% commercial bleach, followed by 70% ethanol, cultured on potato dextrose agar (PDA), and incubated under constant fluorescent light (185 ± 35 μE·m-2·s-1) at 24°C for 2 days. Three single conidial isolates (AS1 to AS3) were selected and used in morphological and pathogenicity studies. All three isolates were identified as an Alternaria sp. (1-3) and formed abundant, dark brown mycelium when cultured on PDA with light at 24°C. Conidiophores were 60 to 89 × 3 to 5 μm, densely fasciculate, cylindrical, simple or branched, and had distinct conidial scars. Conidia were 12 to 74 × 6 to 14 μm, golden brown, straight or curved, obclavate with beaks measuring half the length of the conidium, and observed in chains of 10 or more spores with four to seven transverse septa and several longitudinal septa. Pathogenicity tests were conducted twice by inoculating eight surface-sterilized wounded or unwounded fruits with each of the three isolates in each experiment. Two cuts (1 × 1 × 1 mm) were made on each fruit 3 cm apart with a sterile scalpel, and a 300-μl spore suspension (2 × 105 conidia per ml) was placed on each wound. Similarly, a 300-μl spore suspension was placed on unwounded fruits and air dried for 5 min. Control fruits were similarly treated with sterile water. Inoculated fruits were enclosed in a plastic bag and kept at 24 ± 1°C. Symptoms of soft rot were observed on 60% (unwounded) and 100% (wounded) of inoculated fruits 5 days after inoculation, while control fruits did not develop disease symptoms. Reisolation from the symptomatic fruits consistently yielded an Alternaria sp. This fungus previously has been reported as the causal agent of fruit rot or black spot of papaya, mango, kiwifruit, pear, and carambola from Australia, India, Malaysia, South Africa, and the United States (1-3). To our knowledge, this is the first report of fruit rot of loquat caused by an Alternaria sp. in Taiwan. To manage this disease, growers may resort to fungicidal sprays followed by bagging of fruits to reduce pre- and postharvest losses. References: (1) A. L. Jones and H. S. Aldwinckle. Compendium of Apple and Pear Diseases. The American Phytopathological Society. St. Paul, MN, 1990. (2) R. C. Ploetz. Diseases of Tropical Fruit Crops. CABI Publishing. Wallingford, Oxfordshire, UK, 2003. (3) R. C. Ploetz et al. Compendium of Tropical Fruit Diseases. The American Phytopathological Society. St. Paul, MN, 1994.