Leaf-streak symptoms were observed on rice (Oryza sativa L.) starting at the booting stage through harvest in Zhejiang Province, China, in 2012. Based on Fuyang County, only 15% of the rice fields were estimated to show these symptoms. However, incidence could be 40 to 80% when the rice got infected. Typical symptoms started as green water-soaked streaks from the tip or edge of leaf blades, similar to bacterial leaf blight caused by Xanthomonas oryzae. Infected leaves turned yellow, then eventually became wilted and dry. No bacterial streaming was observed and no bacteria were isolated. Pieces of infected leaf tissue were surface sterilized using 0.1% (v/v) mercuric chloride, rinsed with sterilized water, then placed on water agar (WA). After 2 or 3 days on WA at 28°C, only fungal growth was observed from surface sterilized tissues. Fungi were isolated, purified by single spore separation process, and subcultured to potato dextrose agar (PDA) plates. Growing on PDA, the surface of the colony was circular, fluffy, and shiny velvety-black, whereas the under surface was dark Prussian blue. Conidiophores were single or fascicled, brown to dark brown, rarely branched, multiseptate, and straight or often geniculate near the apex. Conidia were brown, smooth, fusiform, geniculate or hook-shaped, 17.5 to 28.5 × 8.5 to 14.0 μm, and 3-septate, with the third cell from the base larger and darker than the others. Molecular identification was performed by analysis of the rDNA internal transcribed spacer region (ITS1-5.8S-ITS2). The rDNA-ITS region was amplified with primer pair ITS1 and ITS4 (5), sequenced, and deposited in GenBank (Accession No. KC462186). The sequence of rDNA-ITS (KC462186) showed 100% identity with Cochliobolus lunatus R.R. Nelson & Haasis (JN943422) after BLAST. Based on the results of morphological and molecular analyses, the fungus isolated from infected leaves was identified as C. lunatus (anamorph: Curvularia lunata (Wakk.) Boedijn) (3). Pathogenicity tests were conducted three times by spraying a conidial suspension (1 × 105 spores/ml) with 0.1% (v/v) Tween 20 on 12 healthy rice plants at late tillering stage. The same number of the healthy rice plants sprayed with sterilized water with 0.1% (v/v) Tween 20 were used as control. All plants were kept at 30°C and 75 to 85% relative humidity (RH) under a 12-h light/dark rotation. About 5 to 7 days after inoculation, green water-soaked streaks began to appear on inoculated plants. From 7 to 14 days after inoculation, the lesions developed quickly and the leaves began to wilt. After 14 days, inoculated plants showed symptoms similar to those originally observed in the field, while control plants (sprayed with sterilized water) remained healthy. C. lunatus was re-isolated from all inoculated plants, and re-identified by the same methods (morphological and molecular methods) as described above, thereby satisfying Koch's postulates, and confirming C. lunatus as the cause of the disease. C. lunatus is a pathogen of a wide range of plants and is common in paddy environments. It was reported as one of the causal agents of black kernel of rice (4) and rice spikelet rot disease (SRD) (1,2). The level of incidence observed in the affected fields suggest that this disease could potentially cause major losses under favorable weather conditions if susceptible cultivars are grown. To our knowledge, this is the first report of C. lunatus causing leaf blight of rice in China.
References: (1) S. W. Huang et al. Crop Prot. 30:1, 2011. (2) S. W. Huang et al. Crop Prot. 30:10, 2011. (3) D. S. Manamgoda et al. Fungal Divers. 51:3. (4) S. H. Ou. Rice diseases [M]. CABI, 1985. (5) T. J. White et al. PCR Protocols: a Guide to Methods and Application. Academic Press, San Diego, CA, 1990.
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