Pineapple (Ananas comosus (L.) Merr.) is an important perennial monocotyledonous plant that serves as an important fruit crop globally and is also produced in the Hainan Province of China where production in 2009 was 296,600 t. In July 2009, atypical symptoms of a leaf spot disease were observed on mature pineapple leaves in Chengmai County; approximately 15% of plants propagated from suckers became symptomatic after 150 to 300 days, eventually causing a 3 to 10% yield loss. In the initial infection stage, grayish white-to-yellowish white spots emerged on the leaf surfaces that ranged from 1.0 to 2.4 × 0.3 to 0.7 cm; black specks were not always present in the spots. Leaf spots also had distinctive light brown-to-reddish brown banding pattern on the edges. Several spots would often merge to form large lesions, 6.5 to 15.4 × 2.5 to 5.6 cm, covering more than 67% of the leaf surface, which can lead to death of the plant. Infected pineapple leaves collected from an orchard of Chengmai County were surface sterilized (75% ethanol for 30 s, 0.1% HgCl2 for 2 min, and rinsed three times in sterile distilled water). Leaf pieces were placed on potato dextrose agar medium and then incubated at 25°C. The emerging fungal colonies were grayish white to brown. Similar strains were obtained from Qionghai City and Wanning City subsequently. Two isolates, ITF0706-1 and ITF0706-2, were used in confirmation of the identity of the pathogen and in pathogenicity tests. Colonies were fast growing (more than 15 mm per day at 25 to 30°C) with dense aerial mycelia. Conidia were fusiform, pyriform to oval or cylindrical, olive brown to dark brown, 3 to 10 septate (typically 5 to 8), 33.2 to 102.5 × 9.0 to 21.3 μm, with a strongly protruding hilum bulged from the basal cell, which were similar to the Type A conidia described by Lin et al. (3). The strains were subjected to PCR amplification of the internal transcribed spacer (ITS)1-5.8S-ITS2 regions with universal primer pair ITS1/ITS4. The ITS sequence comparisons (GenBank Accession Nos. JN711431 and JN711432) shared between 99.60 and 99.83% identity with the isolate CATAS-ER01 (GenBank Accession No. GQ169762). According to morphological and molecular analysis, the two strains were identified as Exserohilum rostratum (Drechs.) Leonard & Suggs. Pathogenicity experiments were conducted five times and carried out by spraying a conidial suspension (105 CFU/ml) on newly matured leaves of healthy pineapple plants; plants sprayed with sterile water served as the negative control. Plants were incubated in the growth chamber at 20 to 25°C. Symptoms of leaf spot developed on test plants 7 days after inoculation while the control plants remained asymptomatic. Koch's postulates were fulfilled with the reisolation of the two fungal strains. Currently, E. rostratum is one of the most common pathogens on Bromeliads in Florida (2) and has been reported on Zea mays (4), Musa paradisiacal (3), and Calathea picturata (1) in China, but to our knowledge, this is the first report of leaf spot disease caused by E. rostratum on pineapple in Hainan Province of P.R. China.
References: (1) L. L. Chern et al. Plant Dis. 95:1033, 2011. (2) R. M. Leahy. Plant Pathol. Circ. No. 393. Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Plant Industry, 1999. (3) S. H. Lin et al. Australas. Plant Pathol. 40:246, 2011. (4) J. N. Tsai et al. Plant Pathol. Bull. 10:181, 2001.