A leaf spot of basil, Ocimum basilicum L., was observed on container-grown and field plantings of cultivars Aussie Sweet and Sweet Basil. The disease was of minor importance under field conditions, but was of potential economic importance in seedling production. Gray to black, watersoaked, necrotic spots commonly developed at leaf margins. Large numbers of bacteria were released from cut lesions when viewed by light microscopy. Single colony bacterial isolates were established on nutrient dextrose agar (NDA) and yeast extract-dextrose-calcium carbonate agar (YDC). Pathogencity tests were performed by misting a water suspension containing 104 bacterial cells per ml on healthy basil plants. Plants were held for 24 h in a dew chamber at 26°C and then moved to a greenhouse for observation. Typical leaf spots developed on inoculated plants in 2 days, but not on healthy control plants, and the bacterium was reisolated. The bacterium was characterized as a gram-negative, motile rod, negative for potato rot test, positive in tobacco hypersensitivity test, and oxidase positive. Isolates were identified as Pseudomonas cichorii according to the Biolog Microplate system (similarities ranged from 0.937 to 0.995). Screening tests were conducted by inoculating 15 basil cultivars, six replicates each, and rating them for disease severity based on a scale of 1 to 5 in which 1 = no disease and 5 = dead plants. Cultivars most resistant to bacterial leaf spot (ratings in parentheses are averages of two tests and those followed by the same letter are not significantly different according to Tukey's Studentized Range Test, P = 0.05) were Green Bouquet (2.0 a), Piccolo (2.2 a), Mrs. Burn's Lemon (2.2 a), Genovese (2.4 a), and Dark Opal (2.5 ab). Moderately susceptible cultivars were Bush Green (2.8 abc), Sweet Basil (2.8 abc), Large Green (2.9 abcd), Lemon (3.1 abcd), and Mexican Spice (3.6 bcd). The most susceptible cultivars were Lettuce Leaved (3.8 cd), Thai (3.8 cd), Napoletano (4.0 de), Green Ruffles (5.0 e), and Purple Ruffles (5.0 e). Bacterial leaf spot of basil caused by P. cichorii was first reported in the U.S. from Florida (1). Other bacterial diseases reported on basil include leaf blight from Egypt caused by P. syringae (2) and leaf necrosis from California caused by P. viridiflava (3). This is the first report on the occurrence of basil bacterial leaf spot in Louisiana and the first reported information on cultivar susceptibility.
References: (1) S. M. Burgess et al. Proc. Fla. State Hortic. Soc. 99:249, 1986. (2) S. A. M. El-Sadek et al. Assiut J. Agric. Sci. 22:2, 1991. (3) E. L. Little et al. Plant Dis. 78:831, 1994.