The Chinese dwarf banana (Ensete lasiocarpum) is one of the ornamental bananas that belongs to Musaceae family. The plant is native to the southwestern China, where it grows semi-wild in the mountains between 1,500 and 2,500 m above sea level. During July 2011, a leaf spot disease on this plant was observed in the campus and parks in Kunming, Yunnan Province. The incidence level was about 22%, mainly on the old leaves. The leaf symptoms were irregular spots with gray to off-white centers surrounded by dark brown margins, and usually also surrounded by chlorotic halos. Leaf tissues (3 × 5 mm), cut from the margins of lesions, were surface-disinfected (95% ethanol for 3 min, 0.1% HgCl2 for 2 min, rinsed three times with sterile water), plated on potato sucrose agar (PSA), and incubated at 26°C under natural lights. The same fungus was consistently isolated from the diseased leaves. Colonies of white-to-dark gray mycelia formed on PSA that were black on the underside. The colonies were further identified as Alternaria sp. based on the dark brown, obclavate to obpyriform catenulate conidia with longitudinal and transverse septa tapering to a prominent beak attached in chains on a simple and short conidiophore (2). Conidia were 5.26 to 30.26 μm long and 3.95 to 15.79 μm wide, averaging 10.21 (±3.17) × 20.02 (±5.75) μm (n = 50), with a beak length of 0 to 7.89 μm, and had 3 to 8 transverse and 0 to 3 longitudinal septa. PCR amplification was carried out by utilizing universal rDNA-ITS primer pair ITS4/ITS5 (1). The ITS region of isolate DY1 (GenBank Accession No. KF516556) was 572 bp in length. BLAST search revealed 99% identity with two Alternaria alternata isolates (JF440581.1 and GQ121322.2). Phylogenetic analysis (MEGA 5.1) using the neighbor-joining algorithm placed the isolate in a well-supported cluster with other A. alternata isolates. The pathogen was identified as A. alternate (Fr.:Fr.) Keissler based on the morphological characteristics and rDNA-ITS sequence analysis. To confirm pathogenicity, Koch's postulates were performed on detached leaves of E. lasiocarpum inoculated with mycelial plugs with ddH2O and agar plugs as a control. Leaf spots identical to those observed in the field developed in 9 days on the inoculated leaves but not on the control. The inoculation assay used three leaves, totaling 72 spots for control and 36 spots for inoculation. The experiments were repeated once. A. alternata was consistently re-isolated from the inoculated leaves. The symptom developed easier with wounds. To our knowledge, this is the first report of E. lasiocarpum leaf spot disease caused by A. alternata in China and the world.
References: (1) T. J. White et al. Page 315 in: PCR Protocols: A Guide to Methods and Applications. Academic Press, San Diego, 1990. (2) T. Y. Zhang. Flora Fungorum Sinicorum, Vol. 16: Alternaria. Science Press, Beijing, China, 2003.