During March 2011 to June 2012, 50 banana plants of cultivar Musa × paradisiaca ‘Horn’ with Moko disease symptoms were randomly sampled in 12 different locations of 5 outbreak states in Peninsular Malaysia comprising Kedah, Selangor, Pahang, Negeri Sembilan, and Johor, with disease incidence exceeding 90% in some severely affected plantations. The disease symptoms observed in the infected plants included yellowing and wilting of the oldest leaves, which became necrotic, and eventually led to their dieback or collapse. The pulp of banana fruits also became discolored and exuded bacterial ooze. Vascular tissues in pseudostems were discolored. Fragments from symptomatic plant samples were excised and cultured on Kelman's-tetrazolium salt (TZC) medium. Twenty positive samples produced fluidal colonies that were either entirely white or white with pink centers after incubation for 24 to 48 h at 28°C on Kelman's-TZC medium and appeared as gram-negative rods after Gram staining. They were also positive for potassium hydroxide (KOH), Kovacs oxidase, and catalase tests, but negative for utilization of disaccharides and hexose alcohols, which are characteristics of biovar 1 Ralstonia solanacearum. For the pathogenicity test, 30 μl of 108 CFU/ml bacterial suspension of three selected virulent strains were injected into banana (Musa × paradisiaca ‘Horn’) leaves explants grown in plastic pots of 1,440 cm3 volume in a greenhouse, with temperature range from 26 to 35°C. Leaves that were infiltrated with sterile distilled water served as a negative control. Inoculations with all isolates were performed in three replications, as well as the uninoculated control leaves explants. The inoculated plants produced the same symptoms as observed on naturally diseased samples, whereas control plants remained asymptomatic. Strain cultures were re-isolated and possessed the morphological and biochemical characteristics as previously described. PCR amplification using race 2 R. solanacearum primers ISRso19-F (5′-TGGGAGAGGATGGCGGCTTT-3′) and ISRso19-R (5′-TGACCCGCCTTTCGGTGTTT-3′) (3) produced a 1,900-bp product from DNA of all bacterial strains. BLAST searches resulted that the sequences were 95 to 98% identical to published R. solanacearum strain race 2 insertion sequence ISRso19 (GenBank Accession No. AF450275). These genes were later deposited in GenBank (KC812051, KC812052, and KC812053). Phylotype-specific multiplex PCR (Pmx-PCR) and Musa-specific multiplex PCR (Mmx-PCR) were performed to identify the phylotype and sequevar of all isolates (4). Pmx-PCR showed that all isolates belonged to phylotype II, whereas Mmx-PCR showed that they belonged to phylotype II sequevar 4 displaying 351-bp amplicon. Although there were previously extensive studies on R. solanacearum associated with bacterial wilt disease of banana crops in Malaysia, none related to Moko disease has been reported (1,2). The result has a great importance to better understand and document R. solanacearum race 2 biovar 1, since banana has been identified as the second most important commercial fruit crop with a high economic value in Malaysia.
References: (1) R. Khakvar et al. Plant Pathol. J. 7:162, 2008. (2) R. Khakvar et al. Am. J. Agri. Biol. Sci. 3:490, 2008. (3) Y. A. Lee and C. N. Khor. Plant Pathol. Bull. 12:57, 2003. (4) P. Prior et al. Pages 405-414 in: Bacterial Wilt Disease and the Ralstonia solanacearum Species Complex. The American Phytopathological Society, St. Paul, MN, 2005.
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