Tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum L.) is a leafy, annual, solanaceous plant grown commercially for its leaves. China is the biggest single tobacco market and accounts for more than 40% of the global tobacco consumption (1). Tobacco seed harvested in Guiyang, Guizhou Province, China, are commonly contaminated or infected by various fungal pathogens, which can cause abnormal seedlings with dark brown lesions and stunting of roots and decayed seeds. In 2013, five samples of 500 seeds from tobacco cv. Guiyan 4 were tested for germination on moistened paper on petri dishes. On average, 35% of the seeds from all five samples developed into abnormal seedlings or were decayed and were plated onto potato dextrose agar media and grown for 5 days at 25°C in darkness to confirm the presence of a pathogen. However, one fungus was isolated from an average of 10% of the 500 seeds sampled. It was identified morphologically as Cladosporium cladosporioides (Fresen.) de Vries based on the velvety olive-brown with almost black reverse colony color and dimensions and color of conidia and conidiophores. Conidia formed in long branched chains that readily disarticulate, single celled, elliptical to limoniform, 2 to 8 (avg. 4.3) × 2 to 3 (avg. 2.1) μm. Conidia were pale to olive brown and smooth to verruculose. Ramoconidia were 0 to 1 septate, 7 to 14 (avg. 9.2) × 2 to 4 (avg. 2.6) μm, smooth or sometimes minutely verruculose. Conidiophores were pale to olive brown, macro- and micronemateus, smooth or sometimes verruculose, and of various lengths up to 320 μm long and 2 to 5 μm wide. Primer pair ITS1 and ITS4 was employed to amplify the regions of ITS1-5.8s-ITS2 of the pathogens. Sequences of all three isolates (G3, G10, and G18) (Accession Nos. KF841547, KF841554, and KF841560) were identical to each other and to four sequences in GenBank (JX230994.1, JQ768317.1, JQ768322.1, and AB763555.1). Pathogenicity of the three isolates of C. cladosporioides was verified on tobacco seedlings of 3-week-old grown on wet filter paper in the petri dishes (9 cm in diameter). For each isolate, 20 seedlings incubated in one plate were inoculated with 0.5 ml of a suspension of 105 conidia/ml. Twenty seedlings were treated with sterile water as control treatment. After inoculation, the petri dishes were incubated at 25°C, 100 to 120 μEm−2 S−1, RH > 80%, and 16 h light per day for disease development. At 96 h after inoculation, symptoms comprising medium brown to black lesions on the roots were clearly visible on inoculated plants but not on the control plants. All seedlings inoculated died 9 days after inoculation whereas control seedlings remained symptomless. Re-isolation attempts on PDA from roots demonstrated C. cladosporioides to be present in symptomatic seedlings but not in roots of the control plants. Moreover, the characteristics of the cultured fungi were exactly the same as those originally isolated. Isolates G3, G10, and G18 (KF841547, KF841554, and KF841560) were deposited with the Tobacco Diseased Fungi, Guizhou Academy of Tobacco Sciences, Guizhou, China. Previously, C. cladosporioides has also been isolated from macadamia (Macadamia integrifolia Maiden & Betche) racemes in South Africa (4), from diseased papaya (Carica papaya L.) in Taiwan province of China (2), and from seeds of Amaranthus spp. in Poland (3). To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report of C. cladosporioides causing seed disease on tobacco in China and the disease should be considered in existing disease management practices.
References: (1) British American Tobacco Annual Report, 8, 2012. (2) R. S. Chen, et al. Plant Dis. 93:426, 2009. (3) W. Pusz. Phytopathologia 54:15, 2009. (4) N. van den Berg et al. Plant Dis. 92:484, 2008.
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