In fall 2000 and 2001, large leaf spots were observed on Prunus laurocerasus. Two different plant pathogens proved to be the cause. Based on morphological characteristics they were identified as Peronospora sparsa (downy mildew) and Phytophthora cactorum. The P. cactorum isolate (CBS 110121) was identified at the Centraalbureau voor Schimmelcultures (Utrecht, the Netherlands). Sporangia were papillate, ovoid, and deciduous, with a short pedicel. The isolate was homothallic. Chlamydospores were present and approximately 40 μm in diameter. Oogonia were 25 to 31 μm in diameter, and the antheridia were paragynous. Peronospora sparsa had been reported to infect Prunus laurocerasus in the United Kingdom (1). In Belgium, cv. Etna was very susceptible, but cvs. Rotundifolia and Marbled White were also infected. Rotundifolia was susceptible to P. cactorum. At first inspection, the two pathogens caused similar leaf symptoms: large, irregular, brown, necrotic spots on the tips, margins, and center of leaves. However, the undersides of leaves infected with Peronospora sparsa were covered with typical gray mycelium, which was absent on leaves infected with P. cactorum. P. cactorum caused concentric circles in the brown spots. Leaf spots caused by P. cactorum developed quickly in a moist chamber. Spots caused by Peronospora sparsa did not enlarge significantly on detached leaves, but in the field it caused serious losses within a few days. To prove the pathogenicity of P. cactorum, Koch's postulates were satisified on five Prunus laurocerasus Etna plants. The fungus was grown on corn meal agar for 1 week until sporangia formed. An agar plug was placed on five wounded leaves per plant and sealed with Parafilm. Inoculated plants were kept under a plastic cover for 1 day at 22°C, then the cover was removed, and the plants were kept at 20°C. Symptom development was visible after 3 days, and P. cactorum was successfully reisolated. This is the first record of P. cactorum and Peronospora sparsa leaf infection on Prunus laurocerasus in Belgium.
Reference: (1) G. Hall et al. Plant Pathol. 41:224, 1992.