Avicennia marina is a pioneer species of mangroves, a woody plant community that periodically emerges in the intertidal zone of estuarine regions in tropical and subtropical regions. In February 2013, a new disease that caused the stems of A. marina to blacken and die was found in Techeng Island of Zhanjiang, Guangdong Province, China. Initial symptoms of the disease were water-soaked brown spots on the biennial stems that coalesced so whole stems browned, twigs and branches withered, leaves defoliated, and finally trees died. This disease has the potential to threaten the ecology of the local A. marina community. From February to May 2013, 11 symptomatic trees were collected in three locations on the island and the pathogen was isolated as followed: tissues were surface disinfected with 75% ethanol solution (v/v) for 20 s, soaked in 0.1% mercuric chloride solution for 45 s, rinsed with sterilized water three times, dried, placed on potato dextrose agar (PDA), and incubated for 3 to 5 days at 28°C without light. Five isolates (KW1 to KW5) with different morphological characteristics were obtained, and pathogenic tests were done according Koch's postulates. Fresh wounds were made with a sterile needle on healthy biennial stems of A. marina, and mycelial plugs of each isolate were applied and covered with a piece of wet cotton to maintain moisture. All treated plants were incubated at room temperature. Similar symptoms of black stem were observed only on the stems inoculated the isolate KW5 after 35 days, while the control and all stems inoculated with the other isolates remained symptomless. An isolate similar to KW5 was re-isolated from the affected materials. The pathogenic test was repeated three times with the same conditions and it was confirmed that KW5 was the pathogen causing the black stem of A. marina. Hyphal tips of KW5 were transferred to PDA medium in petri dishes for morphological observation. After 48 to 72 h, white, orange, or brown flocculence patches of KW5 mycelium, 5.0 to 6.0 cm in diameter, grew. Tapering and spindle falciform macroconidia (11 to 17.3 μm long × 1.5 to 2.5 μm wide) with an obviously swelled central cell and narrow strips of apical cells and distinctive foot cells were visible under the optical microscope. The conidiogenous cells were intertwined with mycelia and the chlamydospores were globose and formed in clusters. These morphological characteristics of the isolate KW5 are characteristic of Fusarium equiseti (1). For molecular identification, the ITS of ribosomal DNA, β-tubulin, and EF-1α genes were amplified using the ITS4/ITS5 (5), T1/T2 (2), and EF1/EF2 (3) primer pairs. These sequences were deposited in GenBank (KF515650 for the ITS region; KF747330 for β-tubulin region, and KF747331 for EF-1α region) and showed 98 to 99% identity to F. equiseti strains (HQ332532 for ITS region, JX241676 for β-tubulin gene, and GQ505666 for EF-1α region). According to both morphological and sequences analysis, the pathogen of the black stem of A. marina was identified as F. equiseti. Similar symptoms on absorbing rootlets and trunks of A. marina had been reported in central coastal Queensland, but the pathogen was identified as Phytophthora sp. (4). Therefore, the disease reported in this paper differs from that reported in central coastal Queensland. To our knowledge, this is the first report of black stems of A. marina caused by F. equiseti in China.
References: (1) J. F. Leslie and B. A. Summerell. The Fusarium Laboratory Manual, 1st ed. Wiley-Blackwell, Hoboken, NJ, 2006. (2) K. O'Donnell and E. Cigelnik. Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 7:103, 1997. (3) K. O'Donnell et al. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 95:2044, 1998. (4) K. G. Pegg. Aust et al. Plant Pathol. 3:6, 1980. (5) A. W. Zhang et al. Plant Dis. 81:1143, 1997.