In October 2000, leaf spot symptoms were observed on spinach (Spinacia oleracea L. ‘Seven R’) at the University of Maryland Lower Eastern Shore Research and Education Center in Salisbury. In April 2001, a similar leaf spot disease was observed in two commercial spinach fields (cv. Vancouver) in Dorchester County, MD, and Sussex County, DE. Symptomatic plants occurred in foci, and overall disease incidence in the research and commercial fields was <10% of plants with lesions. However, low disease incidence may reduce the value of a spinach crop by requiring additional hand-sorting (fresh market) or lowering the grade (processing). Leaf spot lesions were small (0.2 to 0.7 cm), circular, tan, and papery and lacked visual signs of fungal infestation. Lesions resembled a new leaf spot of spinach reported in California (1) caused by Stemphylium botryosum Wallr. Plating surface-disinfested lesion margins on 0.25-strength potato dextrose agar consistently yielded S. botryosum. Single conidial cultures of three isolates were grown on V8 agar in a growth chamber with a 12 h light/dark regime at 21°C and were used for the pathogenicity test. Conidia were collected from 7-day-old colonies to test pathogenicity. Conidia were suspended in distilled water (1.1 × 105 conidia per milliliter), and sprayed on 4-week-old spinach plants (with four to six true leaves) of cvs. Seven R, Vancouver, and Melody. Noninoculated control plants were sprayed with deionized water. Plants were incubated for 72 h in a dew chamber (18°C, 9 to 15 h light/dark regime where dew formed during the dark periods) and then placed on a greenhouse bench (23°C) for 2 weeks. Plants that had been inoculated with any of the three isolates developed the aforementioned leaf spot lesions after 4 days in the greenhouse. Plants sprayed with deionized water were symptomless. One week after inoculation, more lesions were observed on ‘Seven R’ and ‘Vancouver’ than on ‘Melody’ (41, 39, and 1 lesion per plant, respectively; P< 0.0030), and the lesions were 1.5, 1.2, and 0.5 mm in diameter, respectively (P< 0.0001). S. botryosum was consistently reisolated from leaf spot lesions. The pathogenicity test was repeated with similar results. Isolates grown on V8 agar and incubated for ≈10 days produced conidia with mean dimensions of 31 × 19 μm. To our knowledge, this is the first report of leaf spot of spinach caused by S. botryosum in Maryland and Delaware.
Reference: (1) S. T. Koike et al. Plant Dis. 85:126, 2001.