Japanese snailseed (Cocculus trilobus DC.) has been known as a medicinal herb to treat dieresis, rheumatoid arthritis, and dropsy. In September 2011, severe powdery signs were found on several Japanese snailseed plants near Andong, Korea. Diseased leaves showed chlorotic or necrotic lesions, along with leaf distortion and senescence. Diseased leaves were associated with a fungus that resulted in what appeared to be white colonies, predominately associated with the upper leaf surfaces, and rarely on the lower surfaces. The colonies increased in size and coalesced, subsequently covering the entire surface. The fungus-produced chasmothecia were 92 to 123 μm in diameter, blackish brown, and had a depressed, globose shape. Each chasmothecium had approximately 8 to 12 appendages that were straight to mildly bent, and were four to six times dichotomously branched and often entwined. There were three to six asci per chasmothecium, 38 to 57 × 32 to 43 μm in size, each of which held six to eight ascospores. Conidiophores were single or sometimes two on a hyphal cell, arising from the upper part of mother cells, mostly positioned central, 6.5 to 8 μm with width. Conidiophores were erect and up to 150.5 μm long. Conidia were ellipsoidal or sometimes lemon-shaped. The conidial size was 31.5 to 40 × 19 to 24.5 μm with length/width. These morphological characteristics were identified as being similar to Erysiphe alphitoides (1). DNA was extracted from collected hyphae of infected leaves using the NucleoSpin Tissue Kit (Macherey-Nagel, Duren, Germany). The ITS region of rDNA was amplified using primers ITS4/ITS5 and sequenced (GenBank Accession No. KF734882). The isolate (APEC-F1203) was 99% homologous to other E. alphitoides isolates from oak trees in Japan (AB292704, AB292699, AB292697, and AB292701) and Europe (EF672350, AJ417497). In Korea, this fungus is an oak tree pathogen (2). As proof of pathogenicity, infected leaves having abundant sporulation were pressed onto leaves of five healthy plants. Inoculated and non-inoculated plants were incubated in a moist chamber for 48 h and then maintained in a greenhouse at 15 to 22°C. After 10 to 12 days, powdery mildew colonies developed on inoculated plants. Uninoculated control plants did not show powdery mildew. Microscopic observation of the pathogen growing on the inoculated plants revealed that it was the same as the original fungus. We also observed powdery mildews on oak tree leaves around Japanese snailseed and analyzed their ITS sequences with the above-mentioned methods. As a result, the ITS sequences of powdery mildew pathogens obtained from Japanese snailseed and oak tree were identical. To our knowledge, this is the first report of the presence of E. alphitoides on Japanese snailseed in Korea. This fungus has been reported in association with numerous oak (Quercus spp.) species in Korea, showing that it may be a potential source of inoculum in Japanese snailseed.
References: (1) S. Takamatsu et al. British Mycol. Res. 111:809. 2007. (2) S. H. Yu. List of Plant Diseases in Korea, 5th ed. The Korean Society of Plant Pathology, 2009.
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