Gray mold caused by Botrytis spp. is one of the most economically important diseases of cultivated strawberry (Fragaria × ananassa) worldwide. From April to June 2011, strawberries with symptoms resembling gray mold disease were collected from different locations (Chesnee, Florence, Lexington, McBee, Monetta, and North Augusta) in South Carolina. Fruit infections began as small, firm, light brown lesions that enlarged quickly, becoming covered with a gray, fuzzy mass of spores followed by a soft rot. To isolate the causal agent, spores from symptomatic fruit were suspended in 1% Tween 20, streaked onto the surface of potato dextrose agar plates, and incubated at 22°C. Fungal colonies from single spores were at first colorless and later became gray to brown when the conidiphores and conidia developed. Conidia were identified by their morphological characteristics: an average size of 14 × 9 μm, ellipsoid to rounded without internal structure, and with a scar on the point of union to the conidiophore (1). Sclerotia produced in culture were hard, dark, irregular shaped, and formed after 2 weeks. The pathogen was identified as Botrytis cinerea Pers.: on the basis of morphology and confirmed by a restriction digest with ApoI of the 413-kb PCR amplification product obtained with BA2f/BA1r primers (2). Koch's postulates were conducted by inoculating 10 surface-sterilized strawberries with a conidial suspension (105 spores/ml) of a randomly chosen B. cinerea isolate previously characterized; 10 control fruit received sterile water without conidia. The inoculated fruit were incubated for 3 days at room temperature in air-tight plastic bags. Inoculated fruit developed typical gray mold symptoms with gray sporulating lesions. The developing spores on inoculated fruit were confirmed to be B. cinerea. All control fruit remained healthy. For many Botrytis spp., the internal transcribed spacer region does not reveal nucleotide variations and thus is useless for species identification. We used additional, more appropriate genetic markers for molecular-based species identification and verified that strawberries in South Carolina are affected by gray mold disease caused by B. cinerea. To our knowledge, this is the first scientific report of B. cinerea causing gray mold of strawberry in South Carolina.
References: (1) W. R. Jarvis. Botryotinia and Botrytis Species: Taxonomy, Physiology and Pathogenicity. A Guide to the Literature. Monograph no. 15. Canada Department of Agriculture, Research Branch, Ottawa, 1977. (2) K. Nielsen et al. Plant Dis. 86:682, 2002.
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