Paper mulberry, Broussonetia papyrifera (L.) Vent., is a highly adaptable, fast-growing tree that is native to eastern Asia. Its ability to absorb pollutants makes it ideal for ornamental landscapes, especially in industrial and mining areas. During the summer of 2010, brown lesions were observed on leaves of paper mulberry in Baiwangshan Forest Park, Beijing, China. These lesions were ovoid to fusiform and 4 to 9 × 2 to 4 mm with dark brown centers and light brown irregular edges. Spots on severely infected leaves sometimes coalesced to form long stripes with gray centers. To isolate the causal agent of the lesions, 4-mm2 pieces of diseased leaf tissue from 12 leaves were collected at the lesion margins and surface disinfected in 0.5% NaOCl for 3 min, rinsed three times with sterile water, plated on water agar, and incubated at 25°C with a 12-h photoperiod. After 5 days, the cultures, which became dark brown to black, were observed. Conidiophores (120 to 220 × 4 to 7 μm) were solitary or in groups of two to five, straight or flexuous with swollen bases, and light or dark brown. Conidia were dark olive brown, spindle- or oval-shaped with truncated ends (60 to 120 × 15 to 30 μm), slightly curved, and containing 3 to 12 distoseptate (mostly 6 to 10). Pseudothecia, produced after 14 days in culture, were dark brown to black and flask shaped (420 to 530 μm in diameter with 85 to 100 × 75 to 90 μm ostiolar beaks). Asci were cylindrical (100 to 220 × 30 to 40 μm) and contained eight ascospores. Ascospores were filiform, (150 to 360 × 6 to 9 μm), hyaline, with 6 to 11 septations. Isolates were identified as Cochliobolus sativus (Ito & Kurib.) Drechsler & Dastur (anamorph Bipolaris sorokiniana (Sacc. & Sorok.) Shoem.) on the basis of culture color and dimensions and colors of pseudothecia, asci, ascospores, conidiophores, and conidia (2,3). The identity of one isolate was confirmed by ITS1-5.8S-ITS2 rDNA sequence (GenBank Accession No. HQ 654781) analysis that showed 100% homology to C. sativus listed in Berbee et al. (1). Koch's postulates were performed with six potted 3-month-old paper mulberry plants. An isolate was grown on potato dextrose agar for 14 days to obtain conidia for a conidial suspension (3 × 104 conidia/ml). Three of the potted plants were sprayed with the conidial suspension and three were sprayed with sterile water as controls. Each plant was covered with a plastic bag for 24 h to maintain high humidity and incubated at 25°C with a 12-h photoperiod. After 7 days, the inoculated plants showed leaf symptoms identical to those previously observed on paper mulberry trees in the Baiwangshan Forest Park, while control trees remained symptom free. Reisolation of the fungus from the inoculated plants confirmed that the causal agent was C. sativus. C. sativus is widely distributed worldwide causing a variety of cereal diseases. Wheat and barley are the most economically important hosts. To our knowledge, this is the first report of C. sativus as a pathogen causing leaf spot of paper mulberry in China.
References: (1) M. L. Berbee et al. Mycologia 91:964, 1999. (2) M. B. Ellis. Dematiaceous Hyphomycetes. CABI, Oxon, UK, 1971. (3) A. Sivanesan et al. No.701 in: Descriptions of Pathogenic Fungi and Bacteria. CAB, Kew, Surrey, U.K., 1981.