Lablab purpureus (L.) Sweet (Indian bean) is an important pulse crop grown in arid and semi-arid regions of India. It is one of the most widely cultivated legume species and has multiple uses. During a September 2010 survey, we recorded a new leaf spot disease on L. purpureus in and around Mysore district (Karnataka state) with 40 to 80% disease incidence in 130 ha of field crop studied, which accounted for 20 to 35% estimated yield loss. The symptoms appeared as small necrotic spots on the upper leaf surface. The leaf spots were persistent under mild infection throughout the season with production of conidia in clusters on abaxial leaf surface. A Dueteromyceteous fungus was isolated from affected leaf tissues that were surface sterilized with 2% NaOCl2 solution then washed thrice, dried, inoculated on potato dextrose agar (PDA) medium, and incubated at 28 ± 2°C at 12 h alternate light and dark period for 7 days. The fungal colony with aerial mycelia interspersed with dark cushion-shaped sporodochia consists of short, compact conidiophores bearing large isodiametric, solitary, muricate, brown, globular to pear shaped conidia (29.43 to 23.92 μm). Fungal isolate was identified as Epicoccum sp. based on micro-morphological and cultural features (1). Further authenticity of the fungus was confirmed by PCR amplification of the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region using ITS1/ITS4 universal primer. The amplified PCR product was purified, sequenced directly, and BLASTn search revealed 100% homology to Epicoccum nigrum Link. (DQ093668.1 and JX914480.1). A representative sequence of E. nigrum was deposited in GenBank (Accession No. KC568289.1). The isolated fungus was further tested for its pathogenicity on 30-day-old healthy L. purpureus plants under greenhouse conditions. A conidial suspension (106 conidia/ml) was applied as foliar spray (three replicates of 15 plants each) along with suitable controls. The plants were kept under high humidity (80%) for 5 days and at ambient temperature (28 ± 2°C). The appearance of leaf spot symptoms were observed after 25 days post inoculation. Further, the pathogen was re-isolated and confirmed by micro-morphological characteristics. E. nigrum has been reported to cause post-harvest decay of cantaloupe in Oklahoma (2). It has also been reported as an endophyte (3). Occurrence as a pathogen on lablab bean has not been previously reported. To our knowledge, this is the first report of the occurrence of E. nigrum on L. purpureus in India causing leaf spot disease.
References: (1) H. L. Barnet and B. B. Hunter. Page 150 in: Illustrated Genera of Imperfect Fungi, 1972. (2) B. D. Bruten et al. Plant Dis. 77:1060, 1993. (3) L. C. Fávaro et al. PLoS One 7(6):e36826, 2012.
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