Cowpea (Vigna unguiculata L.) is an important economic vegetable and is widely planted in China. During a survey of diseases in May 2009, a new leaf disease incited by the fungus Corynespora cassiicola was observed on cowpea growing in greenhouses in Shouguang city, Shandong Province, China. Circular lesions of different sizes were present on approximately 40% of the plants. Lesions were round with grayish brown centers surrounded by brownish concentric rings and ranged from 1 to 13 mm in diameter. Leaves with many lesions resulted in chlorosis, wilt, and defoliation. Yellow disk was observed on lesion edges of partly infected leaves. Abundant conidia and conidiophores appeared on the abaxial surface of leaves. To identify the causal pathogen, pieces of tissue from the leading border of lesions were sterilized in 75% ethanol for 1 min, rinsed in sterile water, transferred to potato dextrose agar (PDA), and then incubated at 28°C in an incubator. Colonies grew to 60 mm and were gray in color after 7 days. Conidiophores were straight and unbranched, pale or dark brown, and 63 to 211 × 4 to 8 μm. Conidia were born singly or in chains, obclavate or cylindrical, brown or olivaceous, 33 to 97 × 5 to 11 μm. Based on the above characteristics, the fungus was similar to C. cassiicola (Berk. & M.A. Curtis.) C.T. Wei (2). The internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region of rDNA was amplified using primers ITS1 and ITS2 and deposited in GenBank (Accession No. KC894915). A BLAST search in GenBank indicated precise match for a sequence of C. cassiicola from cowpea in American Samoa (1). To satisfy Koch's postulates, 20 one-month-old seedlings of cowpea were sprayed with a spore suspension (1 × 105 spores/ml) of one isolate of C. cassiicola until runoff. Another 20 seedlings, sprayed with sterile water, served as non-inoculated controls. Plants were placed in a humidity chamber at 28°C for 12 h and then transferred to a growth chamber at 28°C. Symptoms similar to those described above appeared after 7 days on inoculated plants; however, no symptoms were observed on non-inoculated controls. C. cassiicola was re-isolated from inoculated plants. The pathogen can cause diseases on a number of plants and lead to losses. In China, this pathogen has previously been recorded on about 20 genera of plants. It also included V. sinensis (3), a close plant with V. unguiculata. However, to our knowledge, this is the first report of target leaf spot caused by C. cassiicola on cowpea (V. unguiculata) in China. Control measures may be needed to manage the disease.
References: (1) L. J. Dixon et al. Phytopathology 99:1015, 2009. (2) M. B. Ellis. CMI Mycol. Pap. No. 65, 1957. (3) F. L. Tai. Sylloge Fungorum Sinicorum. Science Press, Beijing, 1979.