Chinese woad (Isatis indigotica) is a biennial herb in the Brassicaceae that is widely cultivated in China. Extracts from the roots and leaves have potential pharmaceutical use for treatment of flu, encephalitis, measles, hepatitis, and mumps (2). In June 2012, a leaf spot was observed on 1-year-old plants of I. indigotica in the medicinal garden of Jilin Agricultural University, Changchun, Jilin Province, China. More than 50% of the leaves and 100% of the plants in the garden were symptomatic. In the initial stage of infection, irregular to circular, dark gray spots, each surrounded by a chlorotic halo, appeared on leaves. The spots ranged from pinpoint to 5 mm in diameter. Some spots enlarged and coalesced, forming concentric rings. Black, sunken, fusiform lesions were observed on the petioles. Lesions gradually dried and exhibited a shot-hole appearance, and entire infected leaves desiccated. Small pieces of infected leaves and petioles were surface-disinfested in 75% ethanol for 60 s, rinsed thrice in sterilized distilled water, dried, and plated on potato dextrose agar. Olive-green mycelium developed after 2 days of incubation at 25°C, turned dark green, and covered the petri dish 10 days later. The periphery of each colony was gray and velvety. On potato carrot agar medium, conidia formed on branched chains. Conidiophores arose singly or in clusters, were straight or flexuous, separated, and measured 6.8 to 26.7 × 3.1 to 11.9 μm Conidia on host plant tissues were olivaceous, cylindrical or inverted clavate, and 25.8 to 65.2 × 10.9 to 18.3 μm Larger conidia were cylindrical or obclavate, and smaller conidia were oval. Transverse and longitudinal septa of conidia ranged from 3 to 10 and from 0 to 7 μm, respectively. A very small conidial beak or no beak was observed on each conidium. On the basis of these morphological characteristics,the fungus was identified as Alternaria brassicicola (3). A PCR assay with the ITS4 and ITS5 primers was used to amplify DNA extracted from each of four isolates (1). The sequence (567 bp) of isolate Sl-8 was submitted to GenBank (Accession No. KF531832), and showed 100% similarity to that of an A. brassicicola isolate (AF392985.1), confirming the species identification. Pathogenicity assays with 10 single-conidium isolates were done by spraying a conidial suspension (1 × 106 conidia/ml) of each isolate, or sterilized water for the control treatment, onto healthy leaves and petioles of five 3-month-old plants of I. indigotica. Inoculated and control plants were enclosed in plastic bags for 48 h. After 7 days, symptoms on inoculated plants were similar to those on the original diseased plants, while control plants remained symptomless. Re-isolation from inoculated plants produced mycelial colonies with morphological characteristics of A. brassicicola, fulfilling Koch's postulates. No fungus was isolated from control plants. A. napiformis and A. brassicae have been reported as causal agents of Alternaria leaf spot on I. indigotica in China (3). To our knowledge, however, this is the first report of A. brassicicola as a pathogen on I. indigotica in China.
References: (1) N. L. Glass and G. C. Donaldson. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 61:1323, 1995. (2) A. J. Li et al. Flora Reipublicae Popularis Sinicae Tomus 33, 1998. (3) T. Y. Zhang. Alternaria. Pages 99-100 in: Flora Fungorum Sinicorum, 2003.
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