In 2009, a highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum L. ‘O'Neal’) field located in Rojas, Buenos Aires Province showed 30% of plants with dry or dead branches. Disinfected root pieces were placed on water agar and incubated at 24°C. A fungal colony was obtained and purified by successive transfers of an individual hyphal tip from a sparsely growing colony. Colony color and growth rate were evaluated in potato dextrose agar where the fungus produced white-to-pale pink colonies and grew 3.5 cm after 5 days. The fungus was studied on Spezieller Nährstoffarmer agar (2), carnation leaf-piece agar, and KCl agar where it produced abundant single-celled hyaline microconidia in moderate-length chains and in false heads originated from monophialides and polyphialides. Microconidia measured 6 to 12 × 2 to 3 μm (average 8 × 2.3 μm). On KCl, chains of microconidia and tan-to-light cream sporodochia with 3- to 5-septate, slender, relatively straight macroconidia were easily observed after 4 and 10 days, respectively. Macroconidia measured 38 to 48 × 3.5 to 4 μm (average 43.9 × 3.9 μm). Chlamydospores and sclerotia were not present. Data coincided with the description for Fusarium proliferatum (Matsush.) Niremberg ex Gerlach & Niremberg. The isolate was deposited in the IMYZA Microbial Collection as INTA-IMC 144. The fungus was cultured in 100 ml of Czapek-Dox supplemented with sucrose, peptone, yeast extract, sodium nitrate, and vitamins for 4 days. Genomic DNA was obtained with a DNA extraction kit, PCR amplified with primers ITS1 and ITS4 for the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region of ribosomal genes, and sequenced. The nucleotide sequence (Accession No JF913468) was compared with GenBank records. The sequence shared 99% identity with Accession No HQ113948 for F. proliferatum. Pathogenicity was confirmed in 1-year-old ‘O'Neal’ plants. A 10-ml suspension (2.4 × 106 conidia/ml in sterile distilled water) was applied to six potted plants grown in sterilized potting mix. Roots were superficially wounded with a needle. Control plants were treated with sterile distilled water. Plants were incubated at 24°C and a 12-h photoperiod. After 90 days, plants showed root rot, leaf chlorosis, and branch necrosis followed by plant death. Control plants remained healthy. F. proliferatum was reisolated from diseased roots of inoculated plants. This fungus was previously cited in Argentina on asparagus (1), corn (1,3), and oat (4). To our knowledge, this is the first report of F. proliferatum as a root pathogen of highbush blueberry in Argentina.
References: (1) G. Lori et al. Plant Dis. 82:1405, 1998. (2) H. I. Nirenberg. Releases Fed. Biol. Res. Ctr. Agric. For. (Berlin-Dahlem) 169:1, 1976. (3) D. A. Sampietro et al. Fung. Biol. 114:74, 2010. (4) S. A. Stenglein et al. Plant Dis. 94:783, 2010.