Hylocereus undatus widely grows in southern China. Some varieties are planted for their fruits, known as dragon fruits or Pitaya, while some varieties for their flowers known as Bawanghua. Fresh or dried flowers of Bawanghua are used as routine Chinese medicinal food. Since 2008, a serious anthracnose disease has led to great losses on Bawanghua flower production farms in the Baiyun district of Guangzhou city in China. Anthracnose symptoms on young stems of Bawanghua are reddish-brown, sunken lesions with pink masses of spores in the center. The lesions expand rapidly in the field or in storage, and may coalesce in the warm and wet environment in spring and summer in Guangzhou. Fewer flowers develop on infected stems than on healthy ones. The fungus overwinters in infected debris in the soil. The disease caused a loss of up to 50% on Bawanghua. Putative pathogenic fungi with whitish-orange colonies were isolated from a small piece of tissue (3 × 3 mm) cut from a lesion margin and cultured on potato dextrose agar in a growth chamber at 25°C, 80% RH. Dark colonies with acervuli bearing pinkish conidial masses formed 14 days later. Single celled conidia were 11 to 18 × 4 to 6 μm. Based on these morphological characteristics, the fungi were identified as Colletotrichum gloeosporioides (Penz.) Penz. & Sacc (2). To confirm this, DNA was extracted from isolate BWH1 and multilocus analyses were completed with DNA sequence data generated from partial ITS region of nrDNA, actin (ACT) and glutamine synthetase (GS) nucleotide sequences by PCR, with C. gloeosporioides specific primers as ITS4 (5′-TCCTCCGCTTATTGATATGC-3′) / CgInt (5′-GGCCTCCCGCCTCCGGGCGG-3′), GS-F (5′-ATGGCCGAGTACATCTGG-3′) / GS-R (5′-GAACCGTCGAAGTTCCAC-3′) and actin-R (5′-ATGTGCAAGGCCGGTTTCGC-3′) / actin-F (5′-TACGAGTCCTTCTGGCCCAT-3′). The sequence alignment results indicated that the obtained partial ITS sequence of 468 bp (GenBank Accession No. KF051997), actin sequence of 282 bp (KF712382), and GS sequence of 1,021 bp (KF719176) are 99%, 96%, and 95% identical to JQ676185.1 for partial ITS, FJ907430 for ACT, and FJ972589 for GS of C. gloeosporioides previously deposited, respectively. For testing its pathogenicity, 20 μl of conidia suspension (1 × 106 conidia/ml) using sterile distilled water (SDW) was inoculated into artificial wounds on six healthy young stems of Bawanghua using sterile fine-syringe needle. Meanwhile, 20 μl of SDW was inoculated on six healthy stems as a control. The inoculated stems were kept at 25°C, about 90% relative humidity. Three independent experiments were carried out. Reddish-brown lesions formed after 10 days, on 100% stems (18 in total) inoculated by C. gloeosporioides, while no lesion formed on any control. The pathogen was successfully re-isolated from the inoculated stem lesions on Bawanghua. Thus, Koch's postulates were fulfilled. Colletotrichum anthracnose has been reported on Pitaya in Japan (3), Malaysia (1) and in Brazil (4). To our knowledge, this is the first report of anthracnose disease caused by C. gloeosporioides on young stems of Bawanghua (H. undatus) in China.
References: (1) M. Masyahit et al. Am. J. Appl. Sci. 6:902, 2009. (2) B. C. Sutton. Page 402 in: Colletotrichum Biology, Pathology and Control. J. A. Bailey and M. J. Jeger, eds. CAB International, Wallingford, UK, 1992. (3) S. Taba et al. Jpn. J. Phytopathol. 72:25, 2006. (4) L. M. Takahashi et al. Australas. Plant Dis. Notes 3:96, 2008.
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