In the summer of 2009, a wilt of chicory was observed on 25 to 30% of 30-day-old Cichorium intybus L. cv. Clio plants grown outdoors on a commercial farm in Piedmont (northern Italy). Affected plants were chlorotic and stunted with poorly developed root systems compared with healthy plants. Black streaks were observed in the stem and proximal part of the leaf vascular system in wilted plants. Fusarium oxysporum Schltdl. was isolated from symptomatic vascular tissue on a Fusarium-selective medium (1) from 80% of samples. Grown on potato dextrose agar (PDA) for 4 days at 23°C, the colonies, initially white and later pale pink, produced hyaline microconidia that were oval-elliptical and cylindrical in shape measuring 5.6 to 14.9 (average 10.2) × 2.1 to 4.5 (3.0) μm, borne on short monophialides measuring 8.2 to 16.1 (average 13.2) × 2.1 to 4.2 (3.3) μm. Macroconidia were slightly curved, three-septate, with a slightly hooked apical cell and a foot-shaped basal cell measuring 24.9 to 41.6 (average 32.2) × 3.2 to 5.2 (4.3) μm. Chlamydospores were both terminally and intercalary, solitary but also in short chains (2 to 4 elements) measuring 21.1 to 41.0 (average 27.2) μm (2). The internal transcribed spacer (ITS) rDNA region was amplified using the primers ITS1/ITS4 and sequenced. BLASTn analysis of the 527-bp amplicon (GenBank Accession No. HQ644423) obtained had 98% sequence identity with F. oxysporum (GenBank Accession No. FJ605247). The translation elongation factor-1α (EF-1α) gene was amplified using primers EF-1/EF-2 and sequenced (GenBank Accession No. GU564259). The 663-bp fragment had 99% sequence identity with F. oxysporum (GenBank Accession Nos. EU313540, EU313539, and DQ837696). Pathogenicity tests were conducted on 15-day-old chicory plants from two cultivars (Clio and Katia). Thirty-five plants per cultivar were inoculated by dipping their roots in a 1 × 106 CFU/ml suspension of isolate FusCic45B recovered from wilted chicory. Inoculated and noninoculated plants were transplanted into five pots filled with 10 liters of steamed mix (peat/perlite/sand, 60:20:20 vol/vol) and were maintained in a glasshouse at 25 to 27°C. Wilt symptoms and vascular discoloration of the roots, crown, and veins developed 15 days after inoculation on all inoculated plants. Plants of cv. Clio were more susceptible. F. oxysporum was always reisolated from infected plants using the Fusarium-selective medium. All noninoculated plants remained healthy. The pathogenicity test was conducted twice. To our knowledge, this is the first report of wilt caused by F. oxysporum on chicory, C. intybus, in Italy as well as worldwide.
References: (1) H. Komada. Rev. Plant Prot. Res. 8:114, 1975. (2) E. Nelson et al. Fusarium Species: An Illustrated Manual for Identification. The Pennsylvania State University Press, University Park, 1983.
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