In July of 2007, an outbreak of head rot of cabbage (Brassica oleracea) occurred on more than 2,500 ha in Changyang County, Hubei Province, China. On average, yields were reduced by approximately 50%. Affected plants were first observed in 2006, and symptoms were considered physiological or nutritional disorders by growers. In 2007, the more extensive summer rains favored an increase in disease severity. Initial symptoms consisted of irregular, brown-to-black lesions on leaves and sometimes a wet decay of the base of outer leaves. Lesions expanded until entire heads were rotted. Rhizoctonia solani was recovered consistently from symptomatic plant tissues. Five isolates were used to evaluate cultural and morphological characteristics of the pathogen. On potato dextrose agar (PDA), all isolates yielded colonies that became brown after 5 days of incubation. The hyphae, 4.9 to 8.0 μm in diameter, branched at right or acute angles near the septa and each cell usually had six to eight nuclei. Dark brown sclerotia, 0.5 to 5 mm in diameter, appeared after 10 days of incubation. Genomic DNA of a representative isolate, CY-1, was extracted, and the rDNA-internal transcribed spacer sequence showed 99.5% identity to R. solani AG2-1 (Accession No. EU513147) in GenBank. Pathogenicity tests were completed in the laboratory by placing 6-mm-diameter mycelial plugs from 3-day-old PDA cultures of the five isolates onto 30 cabbage leaves detached from 5-week-old cabbage plants. The inoculated leaves were incubated at 28°C with 95% relative humidity in a controlled environment chamber. Two days after inoculation, black, wet lesions were observed on all inoculated leaves, while no symptoms were apparent on leaves inoculated with noncolonized PDA plugs. Koch's postulates were fulfilled by reisolating R. solani from diseased leaves. R. solani AG1 (1), AG2-1 (2), and AG4 (4) have been reported as causal agents of diseases of cabbage and related plants, and AG2-1 has been previously isolated from cabbage grown in southwest China (3), but to our knowledge, this is the most severe outbreak reported from China.
References: (1) G. S. Abawi and S. B. Martin. Plant Dis. 69:158, 1985. (2) L. Corazza et al. Eur. J. Plant Pathol. 101:341, 1995. (3) H. R. Li and H. H. Zhu. J. Yunnan Agric. Univ. 3:247, 1993. (4) G. H. Yang et al. Plant Pathol. 56:351, 2007.