Symptoms of gray leaf spot were first observed in June 2011 on pepper (Capsicum annuum) plants cultivated in the Cameron Highlands and Johor State, the two main regions of pepper production in Malaysia (about 1,000 ha). Disease incidence exceeded 70% in severely infected fields and greenhouses. Symptoms initially appeared as tiny (average 1.3 mm in diameter), round, orange-brown spots on the leaves, with the center of each spot turning gray to white as the disease developed, and the margin of each spot remaining dark brown. A fungus was isolated consistently from the lesions using sections of symptomatic leaf tissue surface-sterilized in 1% NaOCl for 2 min, rinsed in sterile water, dried, and plated onto PDA and V8 agar media (3). After 7 days, the fungal colonies were gray, dematiaceous conidia had formed at the end of long conidiophores (19.2 to 33.6 × 12.0 to 21.6 μm), and the conidia typically had two to six transverse and one to four longitudinal septa. Fifteen isolates were identified as Stemphylium solani on the basis of morphological criteria described by Kim et al. (3). The universal primers ITS5 and ITS4 were used to amplify the internal transcribed spacer region (ITS1, 5.8, and ITS2) of ribosomal DNA (rDNA) of a representative isolate (2). A 570 bp fragment was amplified, purified, sequenced, and identified as S. solani using a BLAST search with 100% identity to the published ITS sequence of an S. solani isolate in GenBank (1). The sequence was deposited in GenBank (Accession No. JQ736024). Pathogenicity of the fungal isolate was tested by inoculating healthy pepper leaves of cv. 152177-A. A 20-μl drop of conidial suspension (105 spores/ml) was used to inoculate each of four detached, 45-day-old pepper leaves placed on moist filter papers in petri dishes (4). Four control leaves were inoculated similarly with sterilized, distilled water. The leaves were incubated at 25°C at 95% relative humidity for 7 days. Gray leaf spot symptoms similar to those observed on the original pepper plants began to develop on leaves inoculated with the fungus after 3 days, and S. solani was consistently reisolated from the leaves. Control leaves did not develop symptoms and the fungus was not reisolated from these leaves. Pathogenicity testing was repeated with the same results. To our knowledge, this is the first report of S. solani causing gray leaf spot on pepper in Malaysia.
References: (1) S. F. Altschul et al. Nucleic Acids Res. 25:3389, 1997. (2) M. P. S. Camara et al. Mycologia 94:660, 2002. (3) B. S. Kim et al. Plant Pathol. J. 15:348, 1999. (4) B. M. Pryor and T. J. Michailides. Phytopathology 92:406, 2002.
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