Duchesnea indica (Andrews) Focke, a cosmopolitan wild species related to the cultivated strawberry that is widely distributed in northwestern Argentina, grows in close proximity to strawberry crops and has proven to be almost immune to Colletotrichum spp. isolated from diseased strawberry plants (1), hence it has never been considered a phytopathological risk. During a field survey of “La Heladera” (27°01′45″S, 65°39′20″W), Tafí del Valle (Tucumán, Argentina) from November 2009 to November 2010, a genotype of D. indica showing fruits with dark brown, necrotic, irregular, circular lesions of 5 to 20 mm in diameter were collected. Setose acervuli were observed on the center of the fruit lesions. Pathogens were obtained from 10 diseased fruit collected at random, and four fungal isolates were isolated per fruit on potato dextrose agar (PDA). To reduce the number of samples for evaluation, two isolates per fruit that were exhibiting stable but distinctive morphological features were chosen to continue the studies. Isolates were characterized by morphological, molecular, and phytopathological criteria. After 10 days of incubation on PDA medium at 28°C with continuous white light, colonies exhibited a gray, aerial mycelium, whereas the reverse of the colony is a pale maroon with a radial, pale salmon color. Masses of salmon-colored conidia formed in the center of the colonies. Conidia were hyaline, one celled, fusiform, tapered to a point at both ends, and measured 14.8 to 17.3 × 4.5 to 7.4 μm (n = 100). Setae were scarce and sclerotia were absent. All morphological characteristics that were observed indicated that the isolates were C. acutatum (3). To fulfill Koch's postulates and verify the pathogenicity on commercial varieties of strawberry, six healthy plants of D. indica and Fragaria × ananassa cv. Camarosa with mature fruits were used to test each isolate. Four plants were spray inoculated with conidial suspensions of the virulent isolates (1.5 × 106 conidia/ml) and two with sterile distilled water as controls. Both treatments were maintained under white light (2,000 lux, 12 h per day) at 28°C and 70% relative humidity. Nine days after the inoculation, dark brown lesions and salmon-colored masses of conidia were observed only in inoculated fruits of both genotypes. The fungus isolated from diseased fruits and the conidia that were produced were identical to the isolates used to inoculate the plants. To confirm pathogen identity, PCR amplification with the species-specific pair of primer CaInt2/ITS4 (4) were carried out using fungal total DNA from the original isolates and isolates obtained from inoculated fruits. An amplification product of approximately 490 bp, which is specific for C. acutatum, was observed in all DNA samples (4). Although C. acutatum has already been reported in Fragaria × ananassa in Argentina (2), to our knowledge, this is the first report of C. acutaum causing anthracnose in D. indica species. This result is relevant since this species grows close to strawberry fields and can be an alternative host and potential vector of the anthracnose disease agent.
References: (1) M. E. Arias. Frutillas Silvestres y Especies Relacionadas con la Cultivada. EDUNT, Argentina, 2007. (2) C. J. Ramallo et al. Plant Dis. 84:706. 2000. (3) B. J. Smith and L. L. Black. Plant Dis. 74:69, 1990. (4) S. Sreenivasaprasad et al. Plant Pathol. 45:650, 1996.