AGRINNOVA, Via Leonardo da Vinci, 44, 10095 Grugliasco, Italy
Lamb's lettuce (Valerianella olitoria), also known as corn salad, is increasingly grown in Italy and used primarily in the preparation of mixed processed salad. In the summer of 2003, plants of lamb's lettuce cvs. Trophy and Palmares exhibiting wilt symptoms were observed in several commercial greenhouses near Bergamo in northern Italy. Wilted 30-day-old plants were observed first during the month of June, at the time of thinning when temperatures ranged between 28 and 35°C. Disease was generally uniform in the greenhouses and 30 to 50% of the plants were affected. Vascular tissue of affected seedlings appeared red or brown but later turned brown or black. Affected plants were stunted and developed yellowed leaves. Vascular discoloration was continuous from the upper taproot through the crown to the leaf. Fusarium oxysporum was consistently isolated from symptomatic vascular tissue onto a Fusarium-selective medium (1). Seeds of the same cultivars (Trophy and Palmares) affected by the wilt in the field were artificially inoculated by dipping them for 15 min into spore suspensions (1 × 106 conidia per ml) of three isolates of F. oxysporum obtained from infected plants. Noninoculated seeds served as control treatments. Forty seeds per treatment were sown in pots (1-liter volume) containing steam-sterilized soil and maintained at 25°C in a growth chamber programmed for 12 hours of light per day. Wilt symptoms developed on both cultivars 20 days after seeding, and F. oxysporum was consistently reisolated from infected plants. The plants obtained from noninoculated seeds remained healthy. The pathogenicity test was carried out twice with similar results. To our knowledge, this is the first report of F. oxysporum causing vascular wilt of lamb's lettuce and may warrant a new forma specialis designation.
Reference: (1) H. Komada. Rev. Plant Prot. Res. 8:114, 1975.