Sweet cherry, Prunus avium (L.) L., is not much cultivated in Korea, with only 150 ha planted for domestic consumption. In September 2012, a previously unknown leaf spot was observed with nearly 100% incidence on trees (cv. Seneca) planted in a plastic greenhouse in Iksan City of Korea. Interestingly, the same cultivar as well as other cultivars planted outdoors did not show these symptoms. Leaf spots were irregular to subcircular, dark brown with or without a yellow halo, and becoming coalesced to cause leaf blight and premature defoliation. A cercosporoid fungus was consistently associated with disease symptoms. Fungal structures within the lesion developed on both leaf sides but mostly on the upper side. Stromata were well-developed, globular, dark brown, composed of textura angularis-globosa, and 30 to 80 μm in diameter. Conidiophores were densely fasciculate, pale olivaceous to pale brown, subcylindrical, geniculate-sinuous, 8 to 24 × 3 to 4 μm, and aseptate to 2-septate. Conidiogenous loci were inconspicuous, neither thickened nor darkened. Conidia were olivaceous, generally darker than conidiophores, cylindrical to obclavate, almost straight to mildly curved, short obconically truncate at the base, obtuse at the apex, 1- to 10-septate, constricted at the septa, 12 to 86 × 3.5 to 5 μm, guttulate, and had unthickened, not darkened hila. Morphological characteristics of the fungus were consistent with previous descriptions of Pseudocercospora pruni-persicicola (J.M. Yen) J.M. Yen (1,3). A voucher specimen was deposited in the Korea University herbarium (Accession No. KUS-F27264) and a monoconidial isolate was deposited in the Korean Agricultural Culture Collection (Accession No. KACC47019). The complete internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region of rDNA was amplified with the primers ITS1/ITS4 (4) and sequenced. The resulting 505-bp sequence was deposited in GenBank (Accession No. KF670713). A BLAST search in GenBank revealed that the sequence showed >99% similarity with sequences of many Pseudocercospora species, indicating the close phylogenetic relationship of species in this genus. To conduct a pathogenicity test, a conidial suspension (~1 × 104 conidia/ml) was prepared in sterile water by harvesting conidia from 2-week-old cultures on V8 juice agar, and the suspension was sprayed until runoff onto the leaves of five healthy seedlings. Control plants were sprayed with sterile water. The plants were covered with plastic bags to maintain a relative humidity of 100% for 48 h and then transferred to a greenhouse. Necrotic spots appeared on the inoculated leaves 20 days after inoculation, and were identical to the ones observed in the field. P. pruni-persicicola was re-isolated from symptomatic leaf tissues, fulfilling Koch's postulates. Control plants remained symptomless. The fungus has previously been recorded on Prunus persica (L.) Stokes in Taiwan (2,3). To our knowledge, this is the first report of this fungus on P. avium globally as well as in Korea. The disease poses a new threat to the sweet cherry industry in Korea.
References: (1) U. Braun and V. A. Melnik. Cercosporoid Fungi from Russia and Adjacent Countries. Rus. Acad. Sci., St.-Petersburg, 1997. (2) D. F. Farr and A. Y. Rossman. Fungal Databases. Syst. Mycol. Microbiol. Lab., Online publication, ARS, USDA, Retrieved August 24, 2013. (3) J. M. Yen. Rev. Mycol. 42:57, 1978. (4) T. J. White et al. PCR Protocols. Academic Press, San Diego, CA, 1990.
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