Pitahaya or dragon fruit [Hylocereus undatus (Haw.) Britton & Rose] is one of the most popular tropical fruits in the world. In China, it is widely planted in Guangdong, Guangxi, Hainan, and Taiwan. In July 2011, a new pitahaya disease was found in Conghua City and Yunfu City, Guangdong Province, China, characterized by many small, circular, reddish brown spots over the diseased stems. The spots continuously expanded, and ultimately formed large areas of canker on stems. It is similar to pitahaya stem canker disease caused by Neoscytalidium dimidiatum in Taiwan (1). Pieces of tissues were collected from the lesion margins. After surface disinfestations with 1% sodium hypochloride for 1 min and rinsing in sterile water three times, the diseased tissues were placed on potato dextrose agar medium plates (PDA) and incubated at 28°C for 3 days. A dark, fast-growing fungus was isolated from all samples. For identification, single-spore cultures were grown on PDA in an incubator at 28°C. After 5 days, colonies with dark gray to black aerial mycelium formed. The colonies produced abundant conidia that occurred in arthric chains in aerial mycelium. The conidia were disarticulating, cylindrical-truncate, oblong-obtuse to doliform, dark brown, zero- to one-septate, and averaged 7.56 (5.46 to 10.30) × 6.20 (3.79 to 8.93) μm. The teleomorph was never observed in PDA culture. Based on these characteristics, the fungus was identified as N. dimidiatum (Penz.) Crous & Slippers (2). The internal transcribed spacer (ITS) regions of rDNAs from two isolates were amplified by primers ITS1 and ITS4 (3), and then sequenced. Both sequences were completely identical and 579 bp long (GenBank Accession Nos. JX128103 and JX128104), with 99% identity to that of N. dimidiatum previously deposited (Accession No. HQ439174). To confirm its pathogenicity, six healthy detached stems of pitahaya designed as two replicates were inoculated by injecting 10 μl of conidia suspension (1 × 106 conidia per ml). Three stems were inoculated with sterile water as controls. The inoculated stems were kept in an incubator at 28°C in dark. The stems exhibited the same symptoms as described above after 10 days post inoculation, whereas no symptoms developed on the control stems. The fungus was reisolated from the lesions of the inoculated stem. These results indicated that N. dimidiatum was the pathogen of pitahaya brown spot disease. To our knowledge, this is the first report of brown spot caused by N. dimidiatum on H. undatus on the Chinese mainland.
References: (1) M. F. Chuang et al. Plant Dis. 96:906, 2012. (2) P. W. Crous et al. Stud. Mycol. 55:235, 2006. (3) T. J. White et al. Page 315 in: PCR Protocols: A Guide to Methods and Applications. M. A. Innis et al., eds. Academic Press, New York, 1990.
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