Honeysuckle flower (Lonicera japonica Thunb.) is a perennial, traditional Chinese medicine plant, widely cultivated in China. In early June 2013, heavy branch rot infection was observed on L. japonica in an approximately 10,000-m2 field in Linyi, Shandong, China. The disease incidence was 30 to 40%. Early symptoms appeared as small, elliptoid, pale brown lesions on the branches. Lesions expanded into 50 to 100 mm long and 3 to 7 mm wide, brown, elongated spots. The upper branches wilted after the lesions expanded around the stems. A fungus was consistently isolated from stem lesions on potato dextrose agar (PDA) that was morphologically similar to S. delphinii, with white mycelium, round to irregularly shaped reddish-brown sclerotia that were 2 to 4 mm diameter (2). The identity of the fungus was confirmed by DNA sequencing of the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region (GenBank Accession No. KJ145328), which was 99% homologous to those of other S. delphinii isolates (JN241578 and AB075314) (1). Pathogenicity tests were conducted with three 2-year-old seedlings grown in 20-cm-diameter pots at 25 to 30°C during experiments in greenhouse. Ten branches from the three plants pricked by needle were inoculated with a mycelial plug (0.4 cm diameter) harvested from the periphery of a 4-day-old colony. An equal number of branches pricked by needle serving as controls were mock-inoculated with plugs of PDA medium. Inoculated branches were covered with plastic bags for 24 h to maintain high relative humidity and incubated at about 25°C. Plugs were removed 48 h after inoculation. After 3 days, nine inoculated branches showed symptoms identical to those observed in the field under natural conditions, whereas controls remained symptom-free. Re-isolation of the fungus from lesions on inoculated branches confirmed that the causal agent was S. delphinii. Pathogenicity tests were repeated three times by the same methods with the same results. To our knowledge, this is the first report of S. delphinii infecting Lonicera japonica in China.
References: (1) I. Okabe and N. Matsumoto. Mycol. Res. 107:164, 2003. (2) Z. K. Punja and A. Damiani. Mycologia. 88:694, 1996.
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