Worldwide, Japanese yew (Taxus cuspidata Sieb. & Zucc.) is a popular garden tree, with large trees also being used for timber. In July 2012, leaf blight was observed on 10% of Japanese yew seedling leaves planted in a 500-m2 field in Andong, Gyeongsangbuk-do Province, South Korea. Typical symptoms included small, brown lesions that were first visible on the leaf margin, which enlarged and coalesced into the leaf becoming brown and blighted. To isolate potential pathogens from infected leaves, small sections of leaf tissue (5 to 10 mm2) were excised from lesion margins. Eight fungi were isolated from eight symptomatic trees, respectively. These fungi were hyphal tipped twice and transferred to potato dextrose agar (PDA) plates for incubation at 25°C. After 7 days, the fungi produced circular mats of white aerial mycelia. After 12 days, black acervuli containing slimy spore masses formed over the mycelial mats. Two representative isolates were further characterized. Their conidia were straight or slightly curved, fusiform to clavate, five-celled with constrictions at the septa, and 17.4 to 28.5 × 5.8 to 7.1 μm. Two to four 19.8- to 30.7-μm-long hyaline filamentous appendages (mostly three appendages) were attached to each apical cell, whereas one 3.7- to 7.1-μm-long hyaline appendage was attached to each basal cell, matching the description for Pestalotiopsis microspora (2). The pathogenicity of the two isolates was tested using 2-year-old plants (T. cuspidata var. nana Rehder; three plants per isolate) in 30-cm-diameter pots filled with soil under greenhouse conditions. The plants were inoculated by spraying the leaves with an atomizer with a conidial suspension (105 conidia/ml; ~50 ml on each plant) cultured for 10 days on PDA. As a control, three plants were inoculated with sterilized water. The plants were covered with plastic bags for 72 h to maintain high relative humidity (24 to 28°C). At 20 days after inoculation, small dark lesions enlarged into brown blight similar to that observed on naturally infected leaves. P. microspora was isolated from all inoculated plants, but not the controls. The fungus was confirmed by molecular analysis of the 5.8S subunit and flanking internal transcribed spaces (ITS1 and ITS2) of rDNA amplified from DNA extracted from single-spore cultures, and amplified with the ITS1/ITS4 primers and sequenced as previously described (4). Sequences were compared with other DNA sequences in GenBank using a BLASTN search. The P. microspora isolates were 99% homologous to other P. microspora (DQ456865, EU279435, FJ459951, and FJ459950). The morphological characteristics, pathogenicity, and molecular data assimilated in this study corresponded with the fungus P. microspora (2). This fungus has been previously reported as the causal agent of scab disease of Psidium guajava in Hawaii, the decline of Torreya taxifolia in Florida, and the leaf blight of Reineckea carnea in China (1,3). Therefore, this study presents the first report of P. microspora as a pathogen on T. cuspidata in Korea. The degree of pathogenicity of P. microspora to the Korean garden evergreen T. cuspidata requires quantification to determine its potential economic damage and to establish effective management practices.
References: (1) D. F. Farr and A. Y. Rossman, Fungal Databases, Syst. Mycol. Microbiol. Lab. Retrieved from http://nt.ars-grin.gov/fungaldatabases/ (2) L. M. Keith et al. Plant Dis. 90:16, 2006. (3) S. S. N. Maharachchikumbura. Fungal Diversity 50:167, 2011. (4) T. J. White et al. PCR Protocols. Academic Press, San Diego, CA, 1990.
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