Catalpa bignonioides Walter, known as southern catalpa or Indian bean tree, is native to the southeastern United States and are planted as shade trees throughout the world. In August 2009, typical powdery mildew symptoms on several leaves of the plants below 5% disease incidence were observed in a public garden of Hongcheon County of Korea. In 2011 to 2013, hundreds of southern catalpa trees were found heavily damaged by a powdery mildew with 90 to 100% disease incidence in a park of Incheon City of Korea, about 140 km apart from Hongcheon County. Symptoms appeared as circular to irregular white patches, which subsequently showed abundant mycelial growth on both sides of leaves and herbaceous stems. Severe infections caused poor growth and premature loss of leaves, resulting in reduced aesthetic value. Voucher specimens (n = 6) were deposited in the Korea University Herbarium (KUS). Appressoria on the mycelium were well-developed, lobed, and solitary or in opposite pairs. Conidiophores composed of 3 to 4 cells were 70 to 100 × 7.5 to 10 μm, and produced conidia singly. Foot-cells of conidiophores were flexuous or nearly straight, and 20 to 40 μm long. Conidia were oblong to oblong-elliptical, measured 30 to 42 × 13 to 20 μm (n = 30) with a length/width ratio of 1.6 to 2.5, devoid of distinct fibrosin bodies, and showed angular/rectangular wrinkling of outer walls. Primary conidia were apically rounded, basally subtruncate, and generally smaller than the secondary conidia. Germ tubes were produced on the end of conidia. Chasmothecia were not observed. These structures are typical of the Pseudoidium anamorph of the genus Erysiphe. The specific measurements and characteristics were compatible with those of E. elevata (Burrill) U. Braun & S. Takam. (1,2). To confirm the identification, the complete internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region of rDNA from KUS-F27676 was amplified with primers ITS5 and P3 (4) and sequenced directly. The resulting 675-bp sequence was deposited in GenBank (Accession No. KF840721). A GenBank BLAST search of the ITS sequence showed >99% similarity with isolates of E. elevata on C. bignonioides (Accession Nos. AY587012 to AY587014). Pathogenicity was confirmed through inoculation by gently dusting conidia onto leaves of five healthy southern catalpa seedlings. Five non-inoculated plants served as controls. Inoculated and non-inoculated plants were maintained in a greenhouse at 24 to 28°C in isolation. Inoculated plants developed symptoms after 6 days, whereas the control plants remained symptomless. The fungus present on the inoculated plants was identical morphologically to that originally observed on diseased plants. E.elevata is a North American powdery mildew on Catalpa species which was recently introduced into Europe (1,2,3). To our knowledge, this is the first report of powdery mildew caused by E. elevata on C. bignonioides in Asia as well as in Korea. The disease would be a serious threat to the widespread ornamental plantings of C. bignonioides in Korea.
References: (1) N. Ale-Agha et al. Mycol. Prog. 3:291, 2004. (2) U. Braun and R. T. A. Cook. Taxonomic Manual of the Erysiphales (Powdery Mildews), CBS Biodiversity Series No.11. CBS, Utrecht, 2012. (3) D. F. Farr and A. Y. Rossman. Fungal Databases, Syst. Mycol. Microbiol. Lab., Online publication. ARS, USDA. Retrieved November 4, 2013. (4) S. Takamatsu et al. Mycol. Res. 113:117, 2009.