Solanum viarum Dunal (tropical soda apple) belongs to the section Acanthophora in the genus Solanum, which includes nearly 20 neotropical species of herbs and small shrubs (2). The species in this section are sometimes called the ‘spiny Solanums’ (2) and are adapted mainly to highly disturbed habitats and open secondary forests. The center of diversity is eastern Brazil (3). Since the early 1990s, S. viarum has been a problematic weed in Florida where it was listed as a noxious weed in 1993, followed in 1994 by its addition to the Federal Noxious Weed List of the USDA. On 17 April 2010, 12 plants of S. viarum located close to a S. betaceum crop (tree tomato) in the province of Caldas (Department of Antioquia, central northwestern Colombia) were found with symptoms similar to late blight caused by Phytophthora infestans on S. tuberosum (potato). Fifteen leaves from 12 plants with blackish, water-soaked lesions showing a white sporulation on the abaxial side were collected and processed within 3 days. The leaves were placed in a humid chamber and incubated in darkness at room temperature (18°C mean temperature) until sporulation was observed. Microscopic characteristics were consistent with Phytophthora spp. Only one axenic culture was obtained by successive subcultures in rye B agar plates. After an incubation period of 8 days, plates were washed with distilled water and ovoid, semipapillate caduceus sporangia ranging from 38 to 41 μm long (average 39; N = 86) and 23 to 29 μm wide (average 26; N = 86) were observed. To fulfill Koch's postulates and test the isolate for the ability to infect potato as well as Solanum spp. associated with potato crops in Colombia, triplicate pathogenicity tests were carried out on three detached leaves of S. viarum, S. tuberosum, and S. americanum (American nightshade). A 1 × 104 sporangia/ml suspension of the Phytophthora isolate, estimated using a haemocytometer, was obtained from 8-day-old cultures grown on rye B agar. The suspension was incubated at 4°C for 2 h to induce zoospore release. The leaves were then inoculated by spraying them until runoff. After an incubation period of 5 days at 18°C in a humidity chamber, mycelia, sporangia, and brownish lesions, similar to those described above, were observed in the leaves of all three hosts, indicating pathogenicity. DNA extraction was performed from the P. infestans isolate (4). Four nuclear loci, ITS, β-tubulin, Ras, and Avr3a, as well as one mitochondrial gene, cytochrome c oxidase 1 (Cox1), were amplified and sequenced. Sequences were compared with GenBank databases using Blastn. In all cases, the best hits corresponded to P. infestans (GenBank Accession No. HQ639930 for Avr3A, HQ639931 for β-tubulin, HQ639932 for Cox1, HQ639933 for iRas, HQ639934 for Ras, and JF419363 for ITS). Reports of P. infestans causing typical late blight symptoms on wild solanaceous plants are becoming more frequent and have been made from other countries such as Peru (1). To our knowledge, this is the first time that P. infestans has been observed and isolated from S. viarum in Colombia, introducing the possibility of this wild solanaceous weed as another late blight host.
References: (1) G. Garry et al. Eur. J. Plant Pathol. 113:71, 2005. (2) R. Levin et al. Am. J. Bot. 92:603, 2005. (3) M. Nee. A Revision of Solanum Section Acanthophora. Ph.D. diss. University of Wisconsin, Madison, 1979. (4) A. M. Vargas et al. Phytopathology 99:82, 2009.
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