Botrytis cinerea Pers.: Fr. is a causal agent of gray mold of blackberry but may also affect grapevine, tomato, bulb flowers, and ornamental crops (2). In August 2010, blackberries (Rubus fruticosus and other species) showing gray mold symptoms were found in Longcreek, Six Mile, and Cheddar, SC. Symptomatic blackberry fruit exhibited patterns of brown-to-gray mycelia and conidiophores. Upon isolation, the mycelium grew at a rate of 12.3 mm per day at 22°C on potato dextrose agar, forming pale white-to-gray colonies with concentric rings and conidiophores (less than 12 h of fluorescent light per day). Some isolates formed dark brown sclerotia in the dark after 18 days. The lemon-shaped spores averaged 12 × 9 μm and were consistent with descriptions of B. cinerea. (1) The ribosomal internal transcribed spacer (ITS) ITS1-5.8S-ITS2 region was amplified via PCR from genomic DNA obtained from mycelia using primers ITS1 and ITS4. A BLAST search in GenBank revealed highest similarity (99 to 100%) to sequences from various Botrytis spp. collected in China, Canada, and Spain (GenBank Accession Nos. FJ169666.1, GU934505.1, and EF207414.1). The ITS sequence amplified from the blackberry isolate was submitted to GenBank (Accession No. JN164269). The pathogen was further identified to the species level as B. cinerea using glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase, heat-shock protein 60 (HSP60), and DNA-dependent RNA polymerase subunit II (RPB2) gene sequences (2) (GenBank Accession Nos. JN164270, JN164271, JN164272). Pathogenicity was confirmed by inoculating three surface-sterilized (soaked in 5% bleach for 15 min), mature blackberry fruit (R. fruticosus) with a conidial suspension (105 spores/ml) of the blackberry isolate. A 20-μl droplet was placed on the fruit; control fruit received sterile water without conidia. After 5 days of incubation at room temperature in an air-tight Magenta box, the inoculated fruit developed typical signs and symptoms of gray mold. The developing spores on inoculated fruit were confirmed to be B. cinerea. All control fruit remained healthy. To our knowledge, this is the first report of B. cinerea on blackberry in South Carolina. The disease must be managed with fungicides to obtain high quality fruit with market-requested shelf life.
References: (1) D. F. Farr and A. Y. Rossman. Fungal Databases. Systematic Mycology and Microbiology Laboratory, ARS, USDA. Retrieved from http://nt.ars-grin.gov/fungaldatabases/, June 17, 2011. (2) M. Staats et al. Mol. Biol. Evol. 22:333, 2005.
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