Canary Island date palm (Phoenix canariensis Hort. Ex Chabaud) is a signature palm planted in New Orleans, LA. Currently, the city has approximately 1,000 mature Canary Island date palms. During the fall of 2009, 153 palms were inspected with 27 palms exhibiting typical symptoms of Fusarium wilt. Symptoms included one-sided death and a reddish brown streak on the rachis of affected fronds and death of the leaflets. Longitudinal sections of affected fronds showed vascular discoloration. Severely infected palms were completely dead. Small pieces of diseased tissue from five palms were surface sterilized with sodium hypochlorite (0.6%) for 2 to 3 min, then rinsed in sterile distilled water, blotted dry, and plated on potato dextrose agar (PDA). Fungal colonies on PDA produced a purple pigment, and both macro- and microconidia that are typical of Fusarium oxysporum were observed under a light microscope. A single-spore culture of isolate PDC-4701 was obtained. DNA from this isolate was extracted with a DNeasy Plant Mini kit (Qiagen Inc., Valencia, CA) and primers ef1 and ef2 were used to amplify and sequence the translation elongation factor 1-α gene (2). NCBI BLAST analysis of the 616-bp sequence resulted in 100% identity with F. oxysporum f. sp. canariensis isolates PLM-385B from Texas and PLM-511A from South Carolina (GenBank Accession Nos. HM 591538 and HM 591537, respectively). Isolate PDC-4701, grown on PDA for 2 weeks, was used to inoculate 10 9-month-old P. canariensis seedlings. An 18-gauge needle was used to inject 15 ml of a 107 conidia/ml suspension into the stem near the soil line. Each seedling was inoculated at two locations and covered with Parafilm at the inoculation sites. Ten control seedlings were injected with sterile distilled water in the same manner. Inoculated and control seedlings were maintained in a greenhouse at 28 ± 2°C. Leaves of all 10 inoculated seedlings started to wilt 3 months after inoculation. Internal vascular discoloration was observed and the pathogen was reisolated from the symptomatic seedlings. No symptoms developed on any of the 10 control seedlings. On the basis of morphology and DNA sequence data, this pathogen is identified as F. oxysporum f. sp. canariensis. Fusarium wilt of Canary Island date palm has been previously reported from California, Florida, Nevada, Texas, and South Carolina (1). To our knowledge, this is the first report of Fusarium wilt of Canary Island date palm caused by F. oxysporum f. sp. canariensis in Louisiana, extending its geographic range. The disease may adversely affect the tradition of planting Canary Island date palms in New Orleans. The sequence of isolate PDC-4701 has been submitted to the NCBI database (GenBank Accession No. JF826442) and a culture specimen has been deposited in the Fusarium Research Center culture collection (Accession No. O-2602) at the Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA.
References: (1) M. L. Elliott et al. Plant Dis. 95:356, 2011. (2) D. M. Geiser et al. Eur. J. Plant Pathol. 110:473, 2004.
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