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Occurrence of Black Dot of Potato Caused by Colletotrichum coccodes in Central Italy

May 2002 , Volume 86 , Number  5
Pages  562.3 - 562.3

R. Buonaurio , Dipartimento di Arboricoltura e Protezione delle Piante, Borgo XX Giugno 74, 06121 Perugia, Italy ; G. Natalini , ARUSIA, Servizio, Fitosanitario Regionale, Via M, Angeloni 06100 Perugia, Italy ; and L. Covarelli and C. Cappelli , Dipartimento di Arboricoltura e Protezione delle Piante, Borgo XX Giugno 74, 06121 Perugia, Italy

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Accepted for publication 28 February 2002.

Between 1997 and 2000, black dot of potato (Solanum tuberosum L.), caused by the polyphagous soilborne fungus Colletotrichum coccodes (Wallr.) Hughes, was observed each summer in fields located in Umbria (central Italy). Disease incidence ranged from 50 to 100%, and early potato cultivars were generally more susceptible than late-maturing ones. Disease symptoms were first observed during August as a yellowing and wilting of foliage in the tops of plants, followed by rotting of the roots and stems, which led to the premature death of 50 to 70% of plants. Setose1 sclerotia (300 to 500 mm in diameter) and acervuli of the fungus were found on roots and stems of infected plants. Acervuli produced hyaline, aseptate, cylindrical conidia (16 to 22 × 2.5 to 4.5 μm) formed on unicellular cylindrical phialidic conidiophores. The fungus was isolated from diseased stems and roots on potato dextrose agar (PDA) at pH 6.5. Pathogenicity of the fungus was confirmed by fulfilling Koch's postulates using 3- to 4-week-old potato plants of a local cultivar. A superficial 5-mm vertical cut was made with a scalpel into the base of potato stems (2 cm beneath the soil surface), and 5-mm-diameter plugs of PDA alone (control plants) or PDA plus fungal growth were placed over the cuts. The wounds were sealed with wet cotton swabs that were held in place with Parafilm. Symptoms that resembled those in the field were observed on inoculated plants 6 to 8 weeks postinoculation. Symptoms did not appear on the control plants. The same fungus was reisolated from the diseased plants. Based on morphological characteristics of sclerotia, acervuli, and conidia, as well as pathogenicity tests, the fungus was identified as C. coccodes. To our knowledge, this is the first report of C. coccodes as the causal agent of black dot of potato in central Italy. We did not observe foliar outbreaks of the disease, which were reported from the United States (2). In both 1921 (1) and 1951 (3), the fungus was reported to cause severe outbreaks of the disease in northern Italy. Since then, its presence in Italy has been rarely recorded in potato (4). The occurrence of extremely dry and hot weather conditions during the summers of 1997 to 2000, which are favorable for disease development, made the disease particularly severe. We cannot exclude the possibility that the disease may have been present in central Italy before our observations, as it can be misdiagnosed and its symptoms can be masked by the symptoms of other diseases. The significance of black dot in central Italy needs to be reappraised in terms of both yield loss and tuber quality.

References: (1) C. Arnaudi. Atti Ist. Bot. Univ. Pavia. Ser. 3, 1:71, 1924. (2) A. W. Barkdoll and J. R. Davis. Plant Dis. 76:131, 1992. (3) G. Goidanich. Inf. Fitopatol. 1:5, 1951. (4) S. Vitale et al. J. Plant Pathol. 80:265, 1998.

© 2002 The American Phytopathological Society