Etlingera linguiformis (Roxb.) R.M.Sm. of Zingiberaceae family is an important indigenous medicinal and aromatic plant of Nagaland, India, that grows well in warm climates with loamy soil rich in humus (1). The plant rhizome has medicinal benefits in treating sore throats, stomachache, rheumatism, and respiratory complaints, while its essential oil is used in perfumery. A severe disease incidence of leaf blight was observed on the foliar portion of E. linguiformis at the Patkai mountain range of northeast India in September 2012. Initial symptoms of the disease are small brown water soaked flecks appearing on the upper leaf surface with diameter ranging from 0.5 to 3 cm, which later coalesced to form dark brown lesions with a well-defined border. Lesions often merged to form large necrotic areas, covering more than 90% of the leaf surface, which contributed to plant death. The disease significantly reduces the number of functional leaves. As disease progresses, stems and rhizomes were also affected, reducing quality and yield. The diseased leaf tissues were surface sterilized with 0.2% sodium hypochlorite for 2 min followed by rinsing in sterile distilled water and transferred into potato dextrose agar (PDA) medium. After 3 days, the growing tips of the mycelium were transferred to PDA slants and incubated at 25 ± 2°C until conidia formation. Fungal colonies on PDA were dark gray to dark brown, usually zonate; stromata regularly and abundantly formed in culture. Conidia were straight to curved, ellipsoidal, 3-septate, rarely 4-septate, middle cells broad and darker than other two end cells, middle septum not median, smooth, 18 to 32 × 8 to 16 μm (mean 25.15 × 12.10 μm). Conidiophores were terminal and lateral on hyphae and stromata, simple or branched, straight or flexuous, often geniculate, septate, pale brown to brown, smooth, and up to 800 μm thick (2,3). Pathogen identification was performed by the Indian Type Culture Collection, Division of Plant Pathology, Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi (ITCC Accession No. 7895.10). Further molecular identity of the pathogen was confirmed as Curvularia aeria by PCR amplification and sequencing of the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) regions of the ribosomal DNA by using primers ITS4 and ITS5 (4). The sequence was submitted to GenBank (Accession No. MTCC11875). BLAST analysis of the fungal sequence showed 100% nucleotide similarity with Cochliobolus lunatus and Curvularia aeria. Pathogenicity tests were performed by spraying with an aqueous conidial suspension (1 × 106 conidia /ml) on leaves of three healthy Etlingera plants. Three plants sprayed with sterile distilled water served as controls. The first foliar lesions developed on leaves 7 days after inoculation and after 10 to 12 days, 80% of the leaves were severely infected. Control plants remained healthy. The inoculated leaves developed similar blight symptoms to those observed on naturally infected leaves. C. aeria was re-isolated from the inoculated leaves, thus fulfilling Koch's postulates. The pathogenicity test was repeated twice. To our knowledge, this is the first report of the presence of C. aeria on E. linguiformis.
References: (1) M. H. Arafat et al. Pharm. J. 16:33, 2013. (2) M. B. Ellis. Dematiaceous Hyphomycetes. CMI, Kew, Surrey, UK, 1971. (3) K. J. Martin and P. T. Rygiewicz. BMC Microbiol. 5:28, 2005. (4) C. V. Suberamanian. Proc. Indian Acad. Sci. 38:27, 1955.