Although mango (Mangifera indica L.) is a very important tropical fruit crop, limited studies have been conducted on fungal pathogens affecting the inflorescences. During a disease survey conducted from 2008 to 2010, 50% of the inflorescences were affected with inflorescence rot, rachis canker, and flower abortion characterized by blackening of plant tissue with soft rot lesions and suken lesions on the rachis, respectively. Symptoms were observed at the Mango Germplasm Collection of the University of Puerto Rico's Experiment Station in Juana Diaz, Puerto Rico. Five diseased pieces of 350 inflorescences from cvs. Haden and Irwin were disinfested with 70% ethanol, followed by 0.5% sodium hypochlorite, rinsed with sterile water, and transferred to acidified potato dextrose agar (APDA). Among several typical or common fungi, three isolates of Diaporthe pseudomangiferae (Dp) R.R. Gomes, C. Glienke & Crous were obtained from symptomatic tissue and identified morphologically using taxonomic keys and DNA sequence comparisons (1,2). On APDA, colonies of Dp initially had white-gray moderate aerial mycelia. Pycnidia were black and superficial on cultures with a central ostiole that exuded beige to light orange conidial droplets. Alpha conidia (n = 50) were aseptate, hyaline, smooth, fusiform, apex rounded and base truncate, averaged 7.34 μm long by 2.60 μm wide. Beta conidia (n = 50) were spindle-shaped, aseptate, hyaline and smooth, averaged 22.03 μm long by 1.53 μm wide. DNA analysis of the ITS1-5.8S-ITS2 region using primers ITS5 and ITS4, and fragments of both β-tubulin and translation elongation factor 1 alpha (EF1-α) genes using primers T1 and Bt2b, and EF1-728F and EF1-986R, respectively, were sequenced and compared using BLASTn with sequences available in the GenBank. Accession numbers of gene sequences of Dp submitted to GenBank were KF616498 to KF616500 for ITS region, KF616501 to KF616503 for β-tubulin, and KF616504 to KF616506 for EF1-α. For all genes used, sequences were 99 to 100% identical to reference isolate CBS 388.89 of Dp in GenBank. For each fungal isolate, pathogenicity tests were conducted on six random healthy non-detached mango inflorescences for both cvs. Haden and Irwin. Inflorescences were inoculated with 5-mm mycelial disks from 8-day-old pure cultures grown on APDA and kept in a humid chamber using plastic bags for 8 days under field conditions. Untreated controls were inoculated with APDA disks only. The test was repeated twice. On cv. Haden, isolates of Dp caused rachis canker (sunken lesion on the rachis) at 8 days post inoculation (dpi). On cv. Irwin, isolates of Dp caused inflorescence rot. Initially, white mycelia was observed on inflorescences but eventually inflorescences turned brown and flower abortion was observed at 8 dpi. Untreated controls did not show any of the above symptoms and no fungi were re-isolated from tissue. From diseased inflorescences, Dp was re-isolated, thus fulfilling Koch's postulates. Diaporthe spp. have been associated with fruit rots, stem cankers, decay, and wilt on a wide range of plant hosts (3,4). Recently, Dp was associated with fruit peel of mango in Mexico and the Dominican Republic (2). To our knowledge, this is the first report of Dp causing inflorescence rot, rachis canker, and flower abortion in mango.
References: (1) H. L. Barnett and B. B. Hunter. Illustrated Genera of Imperfect Fungi. APS Press. St. Paul, MN, 1998. (2) R. R. Gomes et al. Persoonia. 31:1, 2013. (3) J. M. Santos et al. Persoonia 27:9, 2011. (4) S. M. Thompson et al. Persoonia 27:80, 2011.
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