While screening newly introduced cultivars of walnut (Juglans regia) at Bhaderwah (Mini Kashmir), Jammu and Kashmir, India in September 2008, 60% of grafted plants were found to be dying because of a cankerous growth observed on seedling stems. Later, these symptoms extended to lateral branches. In the surveyed nurseries, cvs. SKU 0002 and Opex Dachaubaria were severely affected by the disease. Cankers were also observed in all walnut nurseries in the area with several wild seedlings also being observed to be exhibiting similar cankerous symptoms on stem and branches. Necrotic lesions from cankerous tissues on seedling stems were surface disinfested with 0.4% NaOCl for 1 min and these disinfected cankerous tissues were grown on potato dextrose agar (potato-250 g, dextrose-15 g, agar-15 g, distilled water-1 liter). A Fusarium sp. was isolated consistently from these cankerous tissues, which was purified using single-spore culture. Carnation leaf agar was used for further culture identification (2,3). The fungal colony was floccose, powdery white to rosy in appearance when kept for 7 days at 25 ± 2°C. Macroconidia were straight to slightly curved, four to eight septate and 30 to 35 × 3.5 to 5.7 μm. These are characteristics consistent with Fusarium incarnatum (3). Pathogenicity was confirmed by spraying a conidial suspension (1 × 106 conidia/ml) onto bruised branches of 1-year-old walnut plants (cv. Opex Dachaubaria) while sterile distilled water sprays were used for the controls. Inoculated plants were incubated at 20 ± 2°C and 85% relative humidity for 48 h. Fifty days following inoculation, branch dieback followed by canker symptoms developed on inoculated plants. Control plants remained healthy with no symptoms of canker. F. incarnatum (Roberge) Sacc. was repeatedly isolated from inoculated walnut plants, thus satisfying Koch's postulates. Infected plant material has been deposited at Herbarium Crytogamae Indiae Orientalis (ITCC-6874-07), New Delhi. To our knowledge, this is the first report of walnut canker caused by F. incarnatum (Roberge) Sacc. from India. This fungus was previously reported to be affecting walnut in Italy (1) and Argentina (4).
References: (1) A. Belisario et al. Informatore Agrario 21:51, 1999. (2) J. C. Gilman. A Manual of Soil Fungi. The Iowa State University Press, Ames, 1959. (3) P. E. Nelson et al. Fusarium Species. An Illustrated Manual for Identification. The Pennsylvania State University Press, University Park, 1983. (4) S. Seta et al. Plant Pathol. 53:248, 2004.