Macleaya microcarpa (Maxim.) Fedde, also known as smallfruit plume poppy, is a perennial herb belonging to the family Papaveraceae. The plant, together with the better-known species M. cordata (Willd.) R. Br., is native to central China and is now planted worldwide for medicinal purposes. In October 2008 and August 2009, dozens of smallfruit plume poppy planted in the Kraków Botanical Garden, Poland, were found to be severely infected with a powdery mildew. White colonies with abundant sporulation developed on both sides of leaves and young stems, forming circular to irregular patches. Infections caused leaf yellowing and premature defoliation. The damage has been observed every year since 2009. Representative voucher specimens were deposited in the fungal herbarium of the W. Szafer Institute of Botany of the Polish Academy of Sciences (KRAM) and the Korea University herbarium (KUS). Appressoria on the mycelia were lobed, often in pairs. Conidiophores composed of three to four cells arose from the upper part of creeping hyphae, 65 to 120 × 7 to 10 μm, attenuated toward the base, sub-straight or slightly flexuous in foot-cells, and produced conidia singly. Conidia were hyaline, oblong-elliptical to doliiform, 25 to 38 × 12 to 18 μm with a length/width ratio of 1.8 to 2.6; lacked fibrosin bodies; and produced germ tubes on the subterminal position with club-shaped or lobed appressoria. The conidial surface was wrinkled to irregularly reticulate. No chasmothecia were found. The structures described above match well with the anamorph of Erysiphe macleayae R.Y. Zheng & G.Q. Chen (3). To confirm the identity of the causal fungus, the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region of rDNA from KUS-F24459 was amplified using primers ITS5 and P3 (4) and directly sequenced. The resulting sequence of 553 bp was deposited in GenBank (Accession No. JQ681217). A GenBank BLAST search using the present data revealed >99% sequence similarity of the isolate with E. macleayae on M. cordata from Japan (AB016048). Pathogenicity was confirmed through inoculation by gently pressing diseased leaves onto leaves of three healthy potted plants. Three noninoculated plants served as controls. Plants were maintained in a greenhouse at 25°C. Inoculated plants developed signs and symptoms after 7 days, whereas the control plants remained healthy. The fungus present on the inoculated plants was morphologically identical to that originally observed on diseased plants. The powdery mildew infections of M. cordata associated with E. macleayae have been recorded in China and Japan (2), and more recently in Germany (1,3). To our knowledge, this is the first report of E. macleayae on M. microcarpa globally as well as in Poland. This mildew species was described in China and is endemic to Asia, where chasmothecia of the fungus were found. Only recently have powdery mildews been found on M. cordata in Germany (1,3) and now on M. microcarpa in Poland, indicating the fungus is spreading in Europe.
References: (1) N. Ale-Agha et al. Schlechtendalia 17:39, 2008. (2) D. F. Farr and A. Y. Rossman. Fungal Databases, Systematic Mycology and Microbiology Laboratory, ARS, USDA. Retrieved from http://nt.ars-grin.gov/fungaldatabases/, February 7, 2012. (3) A. Schmidt and M. Scholler. Mycotaxon 115:287, 2011. (4) S. Takamatsu et al. Mycol. Res. 113:117, 2009.
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