Sesame (Sesamum indicum L.) is an important oilseed crop widely grown in the central regions of China. A new leaf blight has increasingly been observed in sesame fields in Anhui, Hubei, and Henan provinces since 2010. Approximately 30 to 40% of the plants were symptomatic in the affected fields. Initial symptoms were yellow to brown, irregularly shaped lesions. Lesions later expanded and the affected leaves tuned grayish to dark brown and wilted, with a layer of whitish mycelial growth on the underside. Severe blighting caused the center of lesions to fall out, leaving holes in the leaves. Sections of symptomatic leaf tissues were surface-sterilized in 75% ethanol for 30 s, then in 1% HgCl2 for 30 s, rinsed three times in sterile distilled water, and plated onto potato dextrose agar (PDA). The resulting fungal colonies were initially white, and then became grayish-brown with sporulation. Conidia were single-celled, black, smooth, spherical, 14.2 to 19.8 μm (average 17.1 μm) in diameter, and borne on a hyaline vesicle at the tip of each conidiophore. Morphological characteristics of the isolates were similar to those of Nigrospora sphaerica (1). To verify the identification based on morphological features, the ITS1-5.8S-ITS2 region of the ribosomal RNA was amplified using ITS1 (5′-TCCGTAGGTGAACCTGCGG-3′) and ITS4 (5′-TCCTCCGCTTATTGATATGC-3′) primers (3), and then sequenced and compared to the GenBank database through a BLAST search. Comparison of the sequence revealed 100% similarity to N. sphaerica (GenBank Accession No. JF817271.1). On the basis of morphological data and the ITS rDNA sequence, the isolate was determined to be N. sphaerica. Pathogenicity tests were conducted using fresh and healthy sesame leaves of 10 plants. A conidial suspension (106 conidia/ml) collected from a 7-day-old culture on PDA was used for inoculation. Leaves of 10 plants were spray-inoculated with the spore suspension at the 6-week-old growth stage, and an additional 10 plants were sprayed with sterile water. Inoculated plants were covered with polyethylene bags to maintain high humidity. Plants were kept at 28°C and observed for symptom every day. Ten to 15 days after inoculation, inoculated leaves developed blight symptoms similar to those observed on naturally infected leaves. No symptoms were observed on the control leaves. N. sphaerica was re-isolated from the inoculated leaves, thus fulfilling Koch's postulates. N. sphaerica has been reported as a leaf pathogen on several hosts worldwide (2). To our knowledge, this is the first report of Nigrospora leaf blight on sesame caused by N. sphaerica in China.
References: (1) M. B. Ellis. Dematiaceous Hyphomycetes. CMI, Kew, Surrey, UK, 1971. (2) D. F. Farr and A. Y. Rossman. Fungal Databases, Systematic Mycology and Microbiology Laboratory, ARS, USDA. Retrieved from http://nt.ars-grin.gov/fungaldatabases/. July 01, 2013. (3) M. A. Innis et al. PCR Protocols: A Guide to Methods and Applications. Academic Press, San Diego, CA, 1990.
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