Money plant or annual honesty (Lunaria annua L.) is an ornamental landscape plant used in flower beds and borders and also in flower arrangements. It is a biennial plant with large, pointed, oval leaves. Plants of L. annua showing white-to-cream, blister-like lesions on leaves and siliques (2) were found in private gardens where approximately 800 plants of 1,000 (approximately 80 to 90%) that were observed showed symptoms. The disease was also found in two ornamental nurseries, although it was limited to a few mother plants because of extensive fungicide treatments. The gardens and ornamental nurseries were located in Potenza Province (Basilicata Region, southern Italy). Sporangiophores were mostly straight or arched and almost cylindrical with attenuated base and flat or rounded apex and measured 29.2 to 33.4 × 12.8 to 13.4 μm. Sporangia, produced in chains and joined by short connectives, exhibited a spherical or angular shape, were subhyaline, contained vacuoles, and had average maximum and minimum diameters ranging from 15.8 to 18.8 and 14 to 16 μm, respectively. The morphological characteristics closely resembled those reported for Albugo candida (Pers.) Kuntze (3). Sori were collected from naturally and artificially inoculated tissues of L. annua, with the aid of a stereomicroscope, and used to extract genomic DNA via a DNeasy Plant Mini DNA extraction kit (Qiagen, Hilden, Germany) according to the manufacturer's directions. The extracted DNA was used as a template for amplification of the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region of rDNA with primer pair ITS4/DC6 (1,4) and sequenced. One sequence, GenBank Accession No. GQ328846, matched several sequences of A. candida (Pers). Kuntze (e.g., GenBank Accession Nos. GQ328837, GQ328836, GQ328835, GQ328834, and AF271231), showing 98% identity. Pathogenicity tests were performed and repeated twice. Leaves of 10 healthy seedlings of L. annua were surface cleaned during several washings with distilled water and then spray inoculated with a suspension of 103 sporangia/ml of A. candida. Five healthy seedlings were spray inoculated with the same volume of sterile water and served as controls. Inoculated seedlings were maintained in a moist chamber for 48 h at 20°C before being moved to a shaded glasshouse at 16 to 24°C and 90% relative humidity. White rust symptoms, similar to those observed in natural conditions, appeared on leaves of inoculated seedlings 10 to 14 days later, demonstrating that A. candida was the causal agent of the disease. Control plants remained symptomless. White rust has been reported on L. annua in Europe (Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, and the United Kingdom) and in the northwestern United States (3). To our knowledge, this is the first report of A. candida infecting annual honesty plant in Italy.
References: (1) P. Bonants et al. Eur. J. Plant Pathol. 103:345, 1997. (2) D. Choi et al. Mycotaxon 53:261, 1995. (3) D. A. Glawe et al. Online publication. doi:10.1094/PHP-2004-0317-01-HN. Plant Health Progress, 2004. (4) T. J. White et al. Amplification and direct sequencing of fungal ribosomal RNA genes for phylogenetics. In: PCR Protocols. A Guide to Methods and Applications. Academic Press, San Diego, CA, 1990.
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