A survey for the presence of Olpidium spp. on melon (Cucumis melo L.) was conducted during the beginning of 2013 in central Italy in an unheated greenhouse, located in the melon-producing coastal area of north Latium (central Italy, Viterbo Province) (42°23′09.31″N, 11°30′46.10″E) with a history of monosporascus root rot and vine decline (MRRVD). For this aim, 10 soil samples were collected adjacent to the roots of plants symptomatic of MRRVD, represented by root lesions and rots and loss of smaller feeder roots. Olpidium was baited from collected infested soil by growing melon (cv. Dinero) plants for 45 days. Bait plants grown in sterilized soil were used as negative controls. All the baited melon roots were analyzed by morphological and molecular methods. For the morphological analysis, feeder roots were clarified in a 1.5% KOH solution for 24 h (2) and observed under a light microscope to record the presence or absence of sporangia and resting spores of Olpidium spp., which were observed in baited melon plants grown in infested soil and not in control roots. In particular, stellate resting spores were referred to as O. virulentus because this species cannot be distinguished from O. brassicae, which does not colonize melon. O. bornovanus had smooth-walled resting spores with a honeycomb-like pattern (2). For molecular analysis, DNA was extracted from 21 melon roots and tested by multiplex PCR to confirm Olpidium spp. identification (2). Based on molecular identification, O. virulentus was identified in 40% of samples, and O. bornovanus was identified in 10%. There were no mixed infections in the same sample. Two amplified PCR products, corresponding to O. bornovanus and O. virulentus expected fragment sizes of 977 and 579 bp respectively, were sequenced (GenBank Accession Nos. KF661295 and KF661296). BLAST analysis of the sequences showed 99% nucleotide identity with O. bornovanus isolate CH from Japan collected in melon roots (AB205215) and O. virulentus isolate HY-1 from Japan collected in lettuce roots as reported by Sasaya and Koganezawa (3) (AB205204, formerly O. brassicae). At the end of the experiment, the root systems of all inoculated plants appeared brown, whereas neither symptoms nor sporangia and resting spores were observed in roots of control plants. Olpidium spp. are root-infecting plant pathogens of melon (4), acting as vectors of Melon necrotic spot virus (MNSV) and other destructive plant viruses (1). Moreover, they are directly involved in the induction of germination of ascospores of Monosporascus cannonballus, the causal agent of MRRVD of cucurbits (4). To our knowledge, this is the first report of O. virulentus and O. bornovanus on melon in Italy.
References: (1) A. Alfaro-Fernández et al. J. Phytopathol. 91:1250, 2009. (2) J. A. Herrera-Vásquez et al. Mycol. Res. 113:602, 2009. (3) T. Sasaya and H. Koganezawa. J. Gen. Plant Pathol. 72:20, 2006. (4) M. E. Stanghellini and I. J. Misaghi. Phytopathology 101:794, 2011.
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