Cynanchum kashgaricum Liou f., belonging to the family Apocynaceae, is an endemic herbaceous perennial and extremely endangered plant species, only found in the wild in desert regions of Xinjiang, China (3), and is valuable for sand stabilization. In August 2010, a previously unknown and widespread powdery mildew disease was observed on C. kashgaricum growing in the Taklimakan Desert in Xinjiang, China. Disease symptoms included the appearance of a white mycelial coating on the upper surfaces of leaves, while the corresponding abaxial surfaces of infected leaves became chlorotic. As the disease progressed, the infected leaves turned yellow and necrotic. In this survey, the incidence of affected C. kashgaricum plants was 60%. On the basis of microscopic examination, the morphology of the fungus can be described as follows: the primary conidia of the fungus were lanceolate or clavate, with a pointed apex and rounded base, measuring 40.4 to 82.5 × 11.1 to 24.6 μm, with an irregular surface covered by warts; the secondary conidia varied in shape from subcylindrical to cylindrical, with rounded ends, and had lateral borders that were parallel to each other with rounded or truncate bases, measuring 40.5 to 73.5 × 11.2 to 23.9 μm. The ascomata were nearly gregarious and globe-shaped, of dust-colored appearance, and 113 to 267 μm in diameter; they were immersed in dense mycelial tomentum with numerous asci (usually 10 to 18 per ascoma). Numerous, well-developed appendages were present on the lower half of the ascomata; these appendages were irregularly branched and their length was 0.15 to 0.3 times the diameter of the ascomata. The asci were stalked, long or wide ellipsoidal in shape, and 93 to 140 × 27.6 to 52.9 μm. The asci usually contained two ellipsoidal ascospores 24.5 to 49.5 × 18.3 to 29.5 μm. On the basis of morphologic characteristics, the fungus was identified as Leveillula taurica (2). A voucher specimen of the fungus under the identifier HMTU09021 was deposited in the Mycological Herbarium of Tarim University (HMTU). To verify the identity of the fungus, the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) rDNA was amplified and sequenced, and the sequences were deposited as GenBank Accession No. JN861731. Comparison with sequences in the GenBank database revealed that the ITS sequence showed 100% homology with the sequence of L. taurica on Capsicum annuum (Accession No. GQ167201) and Lepidium latifolium (Accession No. AB044349). Thus, the pathogen was identified as L. taurica on the basis of the anamorphic and teleomorphic morphological characters and the ITS sequence. To our knowledge, while L. taurica infection in plants of the family Apocynaceae has been reported around the world (1), in east Asia only a single report of C. glaucum infection in this genus has occurred, in Afghanistan (1). This is the first report of L. taurica infection of C. kashgaricum. Outbreaks of this powdery mildew could not only threaten growth of the endangered plant but also accelerate local ecological deterioration.
References: (1) K. Amano. Host Range and Geographical Distribution of the Powdery Mildew Fungi, 2nd ed. Japan Scientific Societies Press, Tokyo, Japan, 1986. (2) U. Braun. A Monograph of the Erysiphales (Powdery Mildews). Nova Hedwigia Beiheft 89:1, 1987. (3) F. Ying et al. Acta Bot. Boreali-Occidentalia Sin. 23:263, 2003.