Delaware, the eastern shore of Maryland, and southern New Jersey have been the center of lima bean (Phaseolus lunatus L.) production in the eastern United States for nearly 50 years (1). Downy mildew has been the most important disease of lima bean in the humid eastern United States over that period. The causal agent of downy mildew, the oomycete pathogen Phytophthora phaseoli Thaxt., was first identified on lima bean in Connecticut in 1887 by Thaxter. Signs and symptoms of lima bean downy mildew include infection, necrosis and abscission of flowers, and shepherd's crooking of racemes, shoot tips, and petioles (1). Sporangia develop on shoot tips, petioles, pins (small pods), and pods in the field and on hypocotyls in-vitro. Since 2005, approximately 50% of the baby lima beans processed in the United States have been grown in Delaware and the eastern shore of Maryland. In 2008, commercial lima bean production began on the eastern shore of Virginia in Accomack County but no downy mildew was reported in that season. In 2009, approximately 1,825 ha in Accomack and Northampton counties were planted to baby lima bean. Weather conditions in 2009, including above average rainfall, were conducive for the development of downy mildew on the Delmarva Peninsula. Downy mildew was widespread in growers' fields in August and September in butter bean in southern New Jersey and baby lima bean in Sussex County, DE. In August 2009, a home gardener in Rappahannock, VA sent samples of infected lima bean pods from baby, Fordhook, and pole lima bean plants to the Virginia Tech Plant Disease Clinic in Blacksburg. On the basis of morphometric analysis, samples were determined microscopically to be infected by a Phytophthora sp. with rather uniform sporangia averaging 39 × 22 μm and short pedicels, diagnostic for P. phaseoli (1). On October 27, 2009, field scouts in Accomack County, VA identified two lima bean fields planted to cv. C-Elite-Select exhibiting moderate symptoms of downy mildew. Samples were brought to the Plant Diagnostic Clinic at the University of Delaware under USDA-APHIS permit and determined to be P. phaseoli based on morphometric analysis. Samples were inoculated onto a lima bean cultivar differential to determine pathogenicity to complete Koch's postulates and to determine their physiological race. Samples were inoculated onto lima bean cvs. 184-185 and C-Elite-Select, which are susceptible to race F and resistant to race E, Eastland and 8-78, which are susceptible to race E and resistant to race F, and Concentrated Fordhook, susceptible to all known races (1). Three pots containing five emerging seedlings each were inoculated with sporangia (approximately 103 per ml) prepared by soaking infected pods in 500 ml of sterile distilled water for 1 min with gentle agitation. Plants were placed in a Percival dew chamber with intermittent misting and set at 19. Infection and disease development were assessed daily and signs developed 7 days postinoculation in cvs. 184-85, C-Elite-Select, and Concentrated Fordhook, but not in Eastland and 8-78. Cultivar differential tests indicated that the isolates were P. phaseoli race F. Hypocotyls of infected plants were scraped, and isolations made on lima bean pod agar confirmed the presence of P. phaseoli. To our knowledge, this is the first time that downy mildew of lima bean has been reported in Virginia.
Reference: (1) T.A. Evans et al. Plant Dis. 91:128, 2007.
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