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A Quantitative Assay Using Mycelial Fragments to Assess Virulence of Mycosphaerella fijiensis

August 2007 , Volume 97 , Number  8
Pages  916 - 929

Bruno Giuliano Garisto Donzelli and Alice C. L. Churchill

Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research, Ithaca, NY 14853-1801.

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Accepted for publication 20 March 2007.

We describe a method to evaluate the virulence of Mycosphaerella fijiensis, the causal agent of black leaf streak disease (BLSD) of banana and plantain. The method is based on the delivery of weighed slurries of fragmented mycelia by camel's hair brush to 5-by-5-cm areas on the abaxial surface of banana leaf blades. Reliable BLSD development was attained in an environmental growth chamber with stringent lighting and humidity controls. By localizing inoculum onto small areas of large leaves, we achieved a dramatic increase in the number of strains that can be tested on each leaf and plant, which is critical for comparing the virulence of numerous strains concurrently. Image analysis software was used to measure the percentage of each inoculated leaf section showing BLSD symptoms over time. We demonstrated that the level of disease of four isolates was correlated with the weight of the mycelium applied and relatively insensitive to the degree of fragmentation of hyphae. This is the first report demonstrating that weighed mycelial inoculum, combined with image analysis software to measure disease severity, can be used to quantitatively assess the virulence of M. fijiensis under rigorously controlled environmental conditions.

Additional keywords: black Sigatoka, conidia, Musa spp., virulence assay.

© 2007 The American Phytopathological Society