Acanthus ilicifolius (family Acanthaceae) grows mainly in tropical coastal areas and is an important medicinal plant that can be used to treat asthma, rheumatism, etc. In July 2013, symptoms of black spots on the leaves of A. ilicifolius were observed in the Mangrove Conservation Area of Shenzhen Futian (22°32′ N, 114°03′ E) and Leizhou peninsula (20°12′~21°35′ N, 109°30′~110°55′ E), Guangdong Province, China. Initial symptoms of the disease were a small, dark brown spots (4 to 5 × 4 to 6 mm) surrounded by a yellow halo (1 to 2 mm in diameter), that would later extend to round or irregular black spots. Leaves eventually turned chlorotic and plants defoliated. Tissues from symptomatic leaves were excised, surface sterilized with 75% ethanol solution (v/v) for 20 s, soaked in 0.1% HgCl2 solution for 45 s, rinsed three times in sterile water, cut into small pieces (2 to 3 mm), plated on potato dextrose agar (PDA), and incubated 3 to 5 days at 28°C without light. Four isolates named from LSL-1 to LSL-4 with different morphological characteristics were obtained. To fulfill Koch's postulates, wounded and non-wounded leaves were inoculated. Fresh wounds were made with a sterile needle on detached leaves and on living plants. Mycelial plugs of each isolate were applied and covered with a piece of wet cotton to maintain moisture. For the control, the healthy leaves were inoculated with PDA plugs. All treatments were incubated at room temperature. Black spots were observed on the wounded leaves inoculated with isolate LSL-1 after 3 days, while the other three isolates and the control remained symptomless, and the pathogen similar to LSL-1 was re-isolated from the diseased leaves. Non-wounded leaves didn't become infected. The pathogenic test was repeated three times with the same conditions, and it was confirmed that LSL-1 was the pathogen causing the black spot of A. ilicifolius. Identification of the pathogen was conducted using morphological and molecular characteristics. Hyphal tips of LSL-1 were transferred to PDA medium in petri dishes for morphological observation. Two types of conidia were observed. The macroconidia were cylindrical to slightly curved, falciform shaped, with two to four septa, and measured 39 to 45 × 4.7 to 5.0 μm. The microconidia were oval to kidney shaped, single celled, 8 to 10 × 2.5 to 3.5 μm. Chlamydospores were also observed, produced singly or in pairs. Based on morphology (1,4), the isolate was tentatively identified as Fusarium solani. For molecular identification, the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) of ribosomal DNA, beta-tubulin gene, and translation elongation factor 1-alpha (EF-1α) gene was amplified using the ITS1/ITS4 (5), ITS4/ITS5 (5), T1/T2 (2) and EF1/EF2 (3) primer pairs. The gene sequences were deposited in GenBank (KJ720639 for the ITS1/ITS4 region, KF826493 for the ITS4/ITS5 region, KJ720638 for the beta-tubulin, and KF826492 for EF-1α region) and showed 99% identity to the F. solani strains (AY633746 for ITS1/ITS4 region, AM412637 for ITS4/ITS5 region, KF255996 for beta-tubulin region, DQ246859 for EF-1α region). According to these results, the pathogen of black spot of A. ilicifolius was identified as F. solani. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report of F. solani causing black spot of A. ilicifolius in China.
References: (1) J. F. Leslie and B. A. Summerell. The Fusarium Laboratory Manual. Blackwell, Ames, IA, 2006. (2) K. O'Donnell and E. Cigelnik. Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 7:103, 1997. (3) K. O'Donnell et al. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 95:2044, 1998. (4) B. A. Pérez et al. Plant Dis. 91:1053, 2007. (5) A. W. Zhang et al. Plant Dis. 81:1143, 1997.
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