Misamfu Regional Research Center, P.O. Box 410055, Kasama, Zambia
International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, B.P. 08-0932, Cotonou, Benin
Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois, Urbana 61801
Research Center, Pennsylvania State University, University Park 16802
In diagnostic surveys conducted in parts of Benin and Nigeria to determine the incidence of pre-harvest cassava root and stem rot during the dry season, Macrophomina phaseolina (Tassi) Goidanich constituted 14.2 and 18.7% of the total fungi (n = 201) associated with cassava root and stem rot from Benin and Nigeria (1). Pathogenicity of M. phaseolina on cassava was tested with cv. Agric. Inocula for pathogenicity tests were prepared by incubating 5-mm-diameter mycelial plugs for each of five isolates (Mp 1 to Mp 5, all collected from Benin) with 500 ml of autoclaved, sterilized, dehusked rice seed for 14 days at 30°C. Five 30-cm-long stem portions per isolate were cut from healthy cassava, surface disinfested in hot water (52°C, 5 min), and planted into 1-liter pots containing autoclaved, sterilized sand mixed with 10 ml of air-dried inoculum. Five plants per isolate similarly treated but not inoculated served as controls. Plants were watered once a week, and maintained in a greenhouse under natural light at 28 to 30°C. Lower leaves of inoculated plants gradually wilted, usually preceded by chlorosis, and brown to black lesions formed on the lower stem portions of some roots. Control plants remained asymptomatic. Plant height and percentage of leaf wilt (determined by counting the number of leaves wilted per plant and dividing by the total number of leaves per plant) were measured on a weekly basis for 8 weeks for each of the control and inoculated plants. At the end of 8 weeks, lesion length on the lower stem was measured. There were significant differences (P < 0.05) in length of the lesions and percentage of leaf wilt induced by the different isolates of M. phaseolina. Isolate Mp 1 induced the longest lesion (7.2 cm), followed by Mp 4 (4.1 cm), Mp 3 and Mp 5 (3.8 cm each), and Mp 2 (1.2 cm). Mp 4 induced the highest percentage of wilted leaves (53%), followed by Mp 1, Mp 3, and Mp 5 (30%), and Mp 2 (10%). All five M. phaseolina isolates (except Mp 3) reduced plant height, compared with control treatments. M. phaseolina was isolated from all infected plants, and the identification was independently confirmed by the International Mycological Institute, Surrey, UK. This is the first report of M. phaseolina causing pre-harvest cassava root rot in Benin and Nigeria.
Reference: (1) W. Msikita et. al. Plant Dis. 81:1332, 1997.