A leaf spot on eggplant (Solanum melongena) was observed in major eggplant growing regions in Malaysia, including the Cameron Highlands and Johor State, during 2011. Disease incidence averaged approximately 30% in severely infected regions in about 150 ha of eggplant fields and greenhouses examined. Early symptoms consisted of small, circular, brown, necrotic spots uniformly distributed on leaves. The spots gradually enlarged and developed concentric rings. Eventually, the spots coalesced and caused extensive leaf senescence. A fungus was recovered consistently by plating surface-sterilized (1% NaOCl) sections of symptomatic leaf tissue onto potato dextrose agar (PDA). For conidial production, the fungus was grown on potato carrot agar (PCA) and V8 agar media under a 16-h/8-h dark/light photoperiod at 25°C (4). Fungal colonies were a dark olive color with loose, cottony mycelium. Simple conidiophores were ≤120 μm long and produced numerous conidia in long chains. Conidia averaged 20.0 × 7.5 μm and contained two to five transverse septa and the occasional longitudinal septum. Twelve isolates of the fungus were identified as Alternaria tenuissima on the basis of morphological characterization (4). Confirmation of the species identification was obtained by molecular characterization of the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region of rDNA amplified from DNA extracted from a representative isolate using universal primers ITS4 and ITS5 (2). The 558 bp DNA band amplified was sent for direct sequencing. The sequence (GenBank Accession No. JQ736021) was subjected to BLAST analysis (1) and was 99% identical to published ITS rDNA sequences of isolates of A. tenuissima (GenBank Accession Nos. DQ323692 and AY154712). Pathogenicity tests were performed by inoculating four detached leaves from 45-day-old plants of the eggplant cv. 125066x with 20 μl drops (three drops/leaf) of a conidial suspension containing 105 conidia/ml in sterile distilled water. Four control leaves were inoculated with sterile water. Leaves inoculated with the fungus and those treated with sterile water were incubated in chambers at 25°C and 95% RH with a 12-h photoperiod/day (2). Leaf spot symptoms typical of those caused by A. tenuissima developed on leaves inoculated with the fungus 7 days after inoculation, and the fungus was consistently reisolated from these leaves. The control leaves remained asymptomatic and the pathogen was not reisolated from the leaves. The pathogenicity test was repeated with similar results. To our knowledge, this is the first report of A. tenuissima causing a leaf spot on eggplant in Malaysia. A. tenuissima has been reported to cause leaf spot and fruit rot on eggplant in India (3).
References: (1) S. F. Altschul et al. Nucleic Acids Res. 25:3389, 1997. (2) B. M. Pryor and T. J. Michailides. Phytopathology 92:406, 2002. (3) P. Raja et al. New Disease Rep. 12:31, 2005. (4) E. G. Simmons. Page 1 in: Alternaria Biology, Plant Diseases and Metabolites. J. Chelchowski and A. Visconti, eds. Elsevier, Amsterdam, 1992.