DIVAPRA - Patologia Vegetale, Via Leonardo da Vinci 44, 10095 Grugliasco, Italy
Gazania sp. hybrid is produced in pots in the Albenga Region of northern Italy for export to central and northern Europe. During fall 2000 to spring 2001, sudden wilt was observed in commercial plantings of this ornamental. Initial symptoms included stem necrosis at the soil level and yellowing and tan discoloration of leaves. As stem necrosis progressed, infected plants wilted and died. Wilt followed by soft rot occurred within a few days on young plants after the first leaf symptoms. Necrotic tissues became covered with white mycelia that produced dark, spherical (2 to 6 mm diameter) sclerotia. Sclerotinia sclerotiorum was consistently recovered from infected stem pieces of Gazania disinfested for 1 min in 1% NaOCl, plated on potato dextrose agar amended with streptomycin sulfate at 100 mg/liter. Pathogenicity of three fungal isolates was confirmed by inoculating 45- to 60-day-old plants grown in containers (14 cm diameter). Inoculum that consisted of wheat kernels infested with mycelium and sclerotia of each isolate was placed on the soil surface around the base of each plant. Noninoculated plants served as controls. All plants were maintained outdoors where temperatures ranged between 8 and 15°C. Inoculated plants developed symptoms of leaf yellowing, followed by wilt, within 7 to 10 days, while control plants remained symptomless. White mycelia and sclerotia developed on infected tissues, and S. sclerotiorum was reisolated from inoculated plants. To our knowledge, this is the first report of wilt of Gazania sp. hybrid caused by S. sclerotiorum in Italy. A crown rot of Gazania caused by S. sclerotiorum has been reported from California in the United States(1).
Reference: (1) V. M. Muir and A. H. McCain. Calif. Plant Pathol. 16:1, 1973.