Rhizoctonia solani Kühn (teleomorph Thanatephorus cucumeris (A. B. Frank) Donk) anastomosis groups AG 4 and AG 3 cause, respectively, widespread stem rot and leaf spot diseases of tobacco in Zimbabwe (2). Stem rot leads to substantial field losses, necessitating routine chemical and biological control (1). A recent increase in reports on Rhizoctonia-induced damping-off in tobacco seedlings and lodging of mature field plants prompted detailed studies on the causal pathogen. Nuclear fluorescence microscopy studies of 83 isolates from diseased tobacco revealed the presence of binucleate isolates. The isolates were collected in 1981 (1 isolate), 1990 (1 isolate), 1996 (3 isolates), and 1997 (1 isolate) and caused damping-off in seedlings (2 isolates) and stem rot and lodging in field tobacco (4 isolates). We confirmed that all binucleate isolates contained only two nuclei per cell. There was variability in the number of nuclei among the multinucleate stem rot (mean 4.2, SE 0.265) and leaf spot (mean 7.5, SE 0.259) isolates. Two tested binucleate Rhizoctonia isolates were pathogenic to 7-week-old tobacco seedlings (cv. Kutsaga 35) in a greenhouse experiment, laid out as a randomized complete block design. Uninoculated healthy plants served as control. Based on a disease rating scale of 1 to 5 (1 = no disease and 5 = >50% stem damage), overall disease incidence was 88.9% 5 days after inoculation with macerated mycelium at the rate of 3.60 × 105 CFU per seedling, applied around the stem base. Over 50% of inoculated seedlings were rated in disease categories 4 and 5. Binucleate Rhizoctonia were consistently isolated from infected plants. A country-wide survey is being conducted to determine the incidence, distribution and severity of diseases caused by binucleate Rhizoctonia on tobacco in Zimbabwe.
References: (1) J. S. Cole and Z. Zvenyika. Plant Pathol. 37:271, 1988. (2) S. I. Mpofu and A. M. Julian. J. Phytopathol. 140: 367, 1994.