Hop (Humulus lupulus L.) is grown primarily for the alpha and beta acids produced in the strobile (cone) and used for bittering beer. In late summer (March) 2001, necrotic lesions covering the tips of cones of cvs. Agate, Nugget, and Willamette at hop farms in Tasmania, Australia, were observed. The necrotic lesions encompassed the proximal tips and affected between 5 and 60% of the cone; however, all bracts in the whorl were always affected. Diseased cones were observed in all seven gardens included in the survey. The incidence of plants with cone tip blight in ‘Nugget’ ranged from 5 to 30% in three gardens, in ‘Agate’ ranged from 3 to 10% in three gardens, and in the only ‘Willamette’ garden 30% of cones were affected. Pieces of infected hop cones (N = 55) were surface-treated for 1 min in 2% sodium hypochlorite, placed on 2% water agar, and incubated at 22 ± 2°C. Fusarium crookwellense Burgess, Nelson, & Toussoun was isolated from 95% of the cones (1). F. crookwellense was identified on carnation leaf agar by L. Burgess, University of Sydney, Australia. Koch's postulates were fulfilled by inoculating detached mature hop cones of cvs. Nugget and Willamette (N = 20 for each cultivar) with an atomized conidial suspension (3.5 × 105 spores of a single F. crookwellense isolate per milliliter) until runoff and incubated at 20 ± 2°C in a sealed container on plastic mesh over tissue wetted with sterile distilled water. Symptoms first appeared 5 days after inoculation and were identical to those found in the field. No disease symptoms were observed on cones subjected only to sterile distilled water. The pathogen was reisolated from diseased tissue on inoculated cones, completing Koch's postulates. Similar disease symptoms on hop cones have been described in Oregon and were associated with infection by F. sambucinum and F. avenaceum (C. Ocamb, personal communication). To our knowledge, this is the first report of the infection of hop cones by F. crookwellense.
Reference: (1) L. W. Burgess et al. Laboratory Manual for Fusarium Research, 3rd ed. University of Sydney, Australia, 1994.