Cedrus libani, commonly known as Lebanon cedar, is one of the most important coniferous tree species in Turkey. Its main distribution is in the Taurus Mountains in the Mediterranean Region. The total area of pure Taurus cedar forest covers 109,440 ha in Turkey, all located in the southwestern regions of the country. Due to its drought resistance, Taurus cedar has been commonly used for afforestations in these semi-arid areas (1). In September 2011, during surveys for Phytophthora spp. in forest nurseries in Adapazari and İzmir in eastern Turkey, initial symptoms such as death of fine roots, yellowing, and wilting of Taurus cedar seedlings were observed. Soil samples were collected from 10 symptomatic C. libani seedlings and isolation tests for Phytophthora species were carried out using leaflets from young Quercus suber, Azalea sp., and Rhodendron sp. saplings as baits floated over flooded soil. Necrotic baits were blotted dry, cut into small pieces, and placed on selective PARPNH carrot agar. Out growing colonies were subcultured on carrot agar and kept at 12°C for morphological and molecular identifications (2). In total, six Pythiaceous isolates were obtained from the C. libani soil samples. The isolates were investigated using a light microscope and grouped according to their morphological characteristics (3). DNA was extracted from two representative isolates using Qiagen DNeasy Plant Mini Kit following the manufacturer's instructions. PCR amplifications and sequencing of the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region of rDNA and the β-tubulin gene were performed using ITS1 and ITS4 and Tub1 and Tub2 primer sets (4). Sequencing of the PCR products in both directions was conducted by IonTek Inc. (Istanbul, Turkey) in an ABI PRISM automated sequencer. The obtained sequences were compared with those in the GenBank and Phytophthora database using BLAST search. On the basis of morphological features and molecular analyses, the two isolates were identified as Phytophthora syringae. Morphological characteristics on carrot agar were identical with the description of P. syringae (2). At 20°C, colonies reached 7 cm in diameter after 1 week. Sporangia were semipapillate to non-papillate, ovoid, with average length of 59 μm (SD ± 2.8) (range 58 to 70 μm). Oogonia were 38 μm (SD ± 5.4) in diameter (range 30 to 47 μm) with paragynous antheridia. The morphological identification was confirmed by sequence comparison at GenBank with 99% homology for both ITS and β-tubulin. The ITS sequences of the two isolates were deposited in GenBank with the accession nos. KF430614 and KF944377. Under-bark inoculation tests with mycelia plugs were conducted with both isolates of P. syringae at 18°C in a growth chamber on a total of six 1-year-old shoots cut from two C. libani trees. Lesions with an average length of 19 mm (SD ± 6) developed after 10 days. P. syringae was consistently re-isolated from the margins of necrotic tissues. Control shoots remained symptomless. To our knowledge, this is the first report of damage caused by P. syringae on C. libani seedlings in forest nursery in Turkey.
References: (1) T. Çalışkan. Pages 109-130 in: Proceedings of Workshop “Hızlı gelişen türlerle ilgili rapor,” Ankara, Turkey, 1998. (2) T. Jung et al. Eur. J. For. Pathol. 26:253, 1996. (3) T. Jung et al. Mycol. Res. 107:772, 2003. (4) L. P. N. M. Kroon et al. Fung. Genet. Biol. 41:766, 2004.