In November 2011, lesions similar to those reported for Ascochyta blight (1) were observed on Cicer arietinum L. (chickpea) plants growing in three commercial fields located at Río Primero and Río Segundo (Cordoba Province) and Lobería (Buenos Aires Province), Argentina. Disease incidence (percentage of plants affected) was 100% in all fields surveyed. Plants showed leaves, petioles, stems, and pods with brown lesions. Symptoms on leaves and pods were circular to oval (2 to 14 mm) while in the stems the lesions were elongated (2 to 30 mm). Seeds appeared small and shriveled with brown discoloration. Morphology of the fungi was examined on infected tissues. Numerous black pycnidia measuring 94.6 to 217.9 μm (145.9 ± 28.8 μm), arranged in concentric rings, were observed within of all the lesions. Conidia were predominantly aseptate, straight, hyaline with blunt ends, and measured 9.3 to 12.9 (11.3 ± 1.12) × 3.3 to 5.0 μm (4.2 ± 0.51). Morphological characteristics of the pathogen were similar to those described for Ascochyta rabiei (Pass.) Labrousse (teleomorph Didymella rabiei (Kovacheski) v. Arx (= Mycosphaerella rabiei Kovacheski)) (2). Fungus from infected leaf tissues was isolated on potato dextrose agar. Pathogenicity tests were conducted on seedlings of the susceptible cultivar by spraying leaves of each of 100 seedling plants with 10 ml of a conidial suspension (2 × 104 conidia/ml) of the isolated pathogen with a handheld atomizer. Plants were covered with plastic bags and placed in a growing chamber at 20 to 25°C for 3 days. The plastic bags were removed and the plants were maintained in high humidity at the same temperature. Noninoculated plants were used as controls. After 5 days, all inoculated plants showed typical symptoms. Foliar and stem lesions symptoms were similar to those originally observed in the field. Control plants remained healthy. Koch's postulates were fulfilled by isolating A. rabiei from inoculated plants. The colonies and the morphology of conidia were the same as those of the original isolates. To our knowledge, this is the first report of A. rabiei infecting chickpeas in Argentina. The outbreak of Ascochyta blight in Argentina is of concern because of its severity and the possibility that the pathogen was introduced on seed. This report underscores the need for further research on effective management programs for Ascochyta blight.
References: (1) B. Bayaa and W. Chen. Compendium of Chickpea and Lentil Diseases and Pests The American Phytopathological Society, St. Paul, MN, 2011. (2) E. Punithalingam and P. Holliday. Page 337 in: CMI Descriptions of Pathogenic Fungi and Bacteria. CMI, Kew, Surrey, UK, 1972.
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