Primosole mandarin is a promising mandarin-like hybrid of Satsuma Miho and Carvalhais mandarin that ripens very early, at the beginning of October, in southern Italy (2). During August and September 1999 and 2000 in Sicily, widespread fruit rot, affecting from 80 to 95% of the total production, was observed in a 4-year-old Primosole mandarin orchard. The fruits developed color prematurely and light brown-to-black discoloration of the rind at the stylar end. Internal symptoms consisted of a black rot of the fruit core. Sometimes the exterior of the fruits appeared healthy. No premature fruit drop was observed, and infected fruits became mummified and remained attached on the trees. Alternaria citri Ellis & N. Pierce in N. Pierce was consistently isolated from infected tissues, and the identification of the fungus was based on morphological characteristics of the conidia (1). Pathogenicity tests of single-spore isolates were carried out on surface-sterilized Primosole fruits and were repeated twice. Either a conidial suspension (2 × 104 conidia per ml) was injected into the core of fruits, or fruits were pricked at the stylar end near or through growth cracks in poorly formed navels, and the conidial suspension was placed on the wound. Thirty fruits were used per treatment, and thirty noninoculated fruits were used for controls. Following inoculation, the fruits were placed in plastic bags and kept at 30°C for 15 days. No external symptoms were observed on any of the fruits, but when cut in half, decay of the core was observed in all inoculated fruits. A. citri was reisolated from inoculated fruits, fulfilling Koch's postulates. No symptoms were observed on fruits used as controls. We believe that infection is facilitated by growth cracks at the stylar end and the sensitivity to sunburn of Primosole mandarin. To our knowledge, this is the first report of the extreme susceptibility of Primosole mandarin to Alternaria fruit rot.
References: (1) G. E. Brown and J. W. Eckert. Postharvest fungal diseases. Page 37 in: Compendium of Citrus Diseases, 2nd ed. L. W. Timmer, S. M. Garnsey, and J. H. Graham, eds. The American Phytopathological Society, St. Paul, MN, 2000. (2) E. Tribulato and G. La Rosa. Italus Hortus 1:21, 1993.