Torenia fournieri (Linderniaceae) is a common ornamental plant in China. It is also an important Chinese medicinal herb for its heart clearing and toxin removal properties. In October 2013, severe powdery mildew infections were observed on T. fournieri in Baihuayuan Garden (125.35°E, 43.88°N), China. Voucher specimens were deposited in the Herbarium of Mycology of Jilin Agricultural University under the accession number HMJAU02176. Whitish colonies covered the surface of leaves, petioles, sepals, and stems. The infected leaves became yellow and necrotic by advanced stages of the infection. Chasmothecia with a diameter between 63.5 and 95 μm were present singly or in groups, and bore dark brown mycelioid. The appendages were 0.5 to 4 times as long as the chasmothecial diameter, brown at the base and paler toward the apex. Asci were 2 to 6 per chasmothecium, short-stalked or sessile, 50 to 62 × 30 to 50.5 μm, and 2- to 4-spored. Ascospores were pale brown, oval to ellipsoid, 27 to 43 × 13 to 17 μm. Hyphae were flexuous to straight, branched, and septate. Appressoria were well-developed, lobed, and solitary or in opposite pairs. Conidiophores were unbranched, cylindrical, and 94 to 185 × 9 to 15 μm. Foot-cells were straight, cylindrical, 19 to 40 μm long, and followed by 1 to 3 cells shorter or nearly equal to the foot-cell. Conidia were singly produced, cylindrical or oval, 34 to 44 × 16 to 20 μm, and without distinct fibrosin bodies. Lobed germ tubes were produced at the tip of conidia. The morphological characteristics of sexual and asexual structures were consistent with Erysiphe macleayae (1,2). To confirm the identification, the complete internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region of rDNA of the pathogen was amplified with the primers ITS1/ITS4 and sequenced (3). The resulting 574-bp sequence (KJ600796) showed 100% similarity with E. macleayae (KF856294) and Oidium sp. isolated from Chelidonium majus (HQ286645 to 46) and one base different from M. microcarpa (JQ681217). Koch's postulate was completed by gently pressing a diseased leaf onto three young excised leaves of asymptomatic seedlings. Three non-inoculated leaves were used as controls. Inoculated leaves were incubated in separate petri dishes in a greenhouse at 20 to 25°C. Symptoms developed 5 days after inoculation, whereas the control leaves remained symptomless (voucher specimens HMJAU02176I). The morphology of the fungus on the inoculated leaves was identical to that observed on the originally diseased leaves. Powdery mildew on T. fournieri has only been reported as Golovinomyces sp. in Hungary (4). To our knowledge, this is the first report of powdery mildew caused by E. macleayae on T. fournieri worldwide. Infection of Torenia by E. macleayae, a common powdery mildew on various hosts of the Papaveraceae, is very unusual and unexpected. It demonstrates a wider host range of this species beyond the limits of the Papaveraceae.
References: (1) U. Braun and R. T. A. Cook. Taxonomic manual of the Erysiphales (Powdery Mildews), CBS Biodiversity Series 11. CBS, Utrecht, the Netherlands, 2012. (2) M. J. Park et al. Plant Dis. 96:1376, 2012. (3) S. Takamatsu et al. Mycol. Res. 113:117, 2009. (4) P. Vági et al. Eur. J. Plant Pathol. 117:89, 2007.
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