In 2012 and 2013, foliar symptoms were observed in certified organic, 2- to 4-ha crops of Echinacea angustifolia and E. purpurea in Grant and Klickitat counties, WA. White pustules were predominant on the abaxial leaf surface, increased in number, and coalesced on E. angustifolia, with 100% infection by the end of the season; in contrast, symptoms remained sparse on E. purpurea. Symptomatic leaves of each species were collected in May 2013 in Grant Co. Sori and sporangia were typical of those of white rust on Asteraceae caused by Pustula obtusata (1), originally named Albugo tragopogonis, then P. tragopogonis (4). Hyaline sporangia (n = 50) averaged 21 ± 2 × 20 ± 2 μm (16 to 25 × 16 to 24 μm) with a 2.6 ± 0.8 μm (1.0 to 4.0 μm) thick wall. Honey-colored to dark brown oospores were embedded in the abaxial leaf surface surrounding sori on older leaves. Oospores (n = 50) averaged 75 ± 7 × 63 ± 6 μm (60 to 96 × 52 to 76 μm) and 52 ± 4 × 51 ± 4 μm (44 to 65 × 44 to 60 μm) with (including protruberances) and without the hyaline outer wall, respectively. Sori were excised and shaken in 100 ml cold (4°C), deionized water at 400 rpm for 15 min on a gyrotory shaker. DNA extracted from the resulting spore suspension was subjected to a PCR assay using oomycete specific primers (2) to amplify the cytochrome oxidase subunit II (cox2) region of mtDNA (3). The 511-nt consensus sequence of the PCR product (GenBank Accession No. KF981439) was 98% identical to a cox2 sequence of A. tragopogonis from sunflower (Helianthus annuus) (AY286221.1), and 96% identical to cox2 sequences of P. tragopogonis (GU292167.1 and GU292168.1) (= P. obtusata) (1,2,4). Pathogenicity of the white rust isolate was confirmed by inoculating 49-day-old plants of E. angustifolia and E. purpurea with a spore suspension prepared as described above. One plant/species was placed in each of six clear plastic bags in a growth chamber at 18°C with a 12-h day/12-h night cycle for 48 h. Five replicate sets of one plant/species were each inoculated with 2.2 × 105 spores/ml on the adaxial and abaxial leaf surfaces using an airbrush (8 psi). One plant/species was sprayed with water as a control treatment. The plants were resealed in the bags for 48 h. After 7 days, white pustules were observed on at least one plant species. The plants were placed in plastic bags again overnight, and re-inoculated with 2.9 × 105 spores/ml. In addition, two sunflower plants at the 4-true-leaf stage were incubated in each of two plastic bags overnight, and inoculated with the spore suspension. Two additional sunflower plants were treated with water as control plants. All plants were removed from the bags after 48 h. White rust sori with sporangia developed on all inoculated Echinacea plants within 10 days, but not on control plants of either species, nor inoculated and non-inoculated sunflower plants, verifying that the pathogen was not P. helianthicola (1,2). Since the cox2 sequence was closest to that of a sunflower white rust isolate, the pathogen appears to be closer to P. helianthicola than P. obtusata, and may be a new Pustula species. To our knowledge, this is the first documentation of white rust on E. angustifolia and E. purpurea in North America. The severity of white rust on E. angustifolia highlights the need for effective management practices.
References: (1) C. Rost and M. Thines. Mycol. Progress 11:351, 2012. (2) O. Spring et al. Eur. J. Plant Pathol 131:519, 2011. (3) S. Telle and M. Thines. PloS ONE 3(10):e3584, 2008. (4) M. Thines and O. Spring. Mycotaxon 92:443, 2005.