Soybean rust, caused by the fungus Phakopsora pachyrhizi, was detected on jicama (Pachyrhizus erosus L. Urban) for the first time in the United States in November 2009. The pathogen was observed on leaves of a single, potted jicama plant grown outdoors in a residential area and on leaves of all plants in a 12-m2 demonstration plot located at the Auburn University Teaching Garden in Auburn, AL. Symptoms on the upper leaf surfaces were isolated chlorotic areas near the leaf edges in the lower part of the canopy. The abaxial surface was first observed to exhibit brown lesions and subsequently produced volcano-shaped uredinia. These symptoms are consistent with a rust previously described on jicama in Mexico (1). Representative symptomatic plant tissue was sent to the USDA National Identification Services (Mycology) Laboratory in Beltsville, MD for diagnostic confirmation at both the Urbana, IL lab and the USDA National Plant Germplasm and Biotechnology Laboratory for DNA testing. From an infected leaf, samples of approximately 5 mm2 were excised from a microscopically observed rust lesion and an apparently noninfected area. Total DNA was purified with the FastDNA Spin Kit (MP Biomedicals, Solon, OH) followed by the E.Z.N.A. MicroElute DNA Clean-Up Kit (Omega Bio-tek, Inc, Doraville, GA) per manufacturer's instructions. Detection of P. pachyrhizi and P. meibomiae DNA was achieved by quantitative PCR using the method of Frederick et al. (2) and a DNA standard of previously prepared P. pachyrhizi spores. The observed rust pustule was found to contain P. pachyrhizi DNA in excess of 28,000 genomes, while no P. pachyrhizi DNA was observed from the asymptomatic sample. Both samples were negative for P. meibomiae. The fungal structures present were confirmed to be Phakopsora spp. DNA was extracted from sori aseptically removed from leaves with a Qiagen (Valencia, CA) DNeasy Plant Mini Kit and amplified with primers Ppa1 and NL4. The resulting partial ITS2 and 28S ribosomal RNA sequences were 100% identical to GenBank entry DQ354537 P. pachyrhizi internal transcribed spacer 2 and 28S ribosomal RNA gene, partial sequence. Sequences from jicama from Alabama were deposited in GenBank. Voucher specimens were deposited in the USDA Agricultural Research Service, National Fungus Collection (BPI). To our knowledge, this is the first report of the disease on jicama in the United States.
References: (1) A. Cárcamo Rodriguez et al. Plant Dis. 90:1260, 2006. (2) R. D. Frederick et al. Phytopathology 92:217, 2002.