Cátedra de Fitopatología, Facultad de Agronomía, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Av. San Martín 4453 (1417), Capital Federal, Argentina
IMYZA-INTA, C.C. 25 (1712) Cautelar, Prov. Buenos Aires, Argentina
Common garden petunias (Petunia × hybrida Hort. Vilm.-Andr.) are herbaceous annual plants with brightly colored flowers up to 10 cm in diameter. During the winter of 2002, crown and root rot were observed on plants (cv. Ultra) growing in five greenhouses in Buenos Aires. Affected plants were randomly distributed in the greenhouses, and mean disease incidence in all the greenhouses was 26%. Basal leaves turned yellow and gradually became necrotic, and infected plants were often killed. Small pieces of affected tissues were disinfested in 2% sodium hypochlorite for 1 min and plated on 2% potato dextrose agar (PDA). Fifteen isolates identified to the genus Rhizoctonia were obtained. Fungal colonies were initially white, turned brown with age, and produced irregularly shaped, brown sclerotia. Hyphal branched at right angles, were constricted at the base of the branch near the union with main hyphae, and septate near the constriction. Basidia were not observed in the greenhouses or on the plates. Isolates were cultivated on water agar and incubated at 25°C for 3 days. Hyphal cells were determined to be multinucleate when stained with 1% aniline blue solution (2) and examined at ×400. Anastomosis group of one isolate was determined by using AG-4 HG II, AG-1 IA, AG-1 IB, AG-1 IC, AG-2 2-1, and AG-2 2IIIB tester strains of Rhizoctonia solani that includes isolates reported to be pathogenic on ornamentals (1). Anastomosis was observed only with strains of AG-4 HG II. Pathogenicity on this isolate was conducted on potted, healthy, adult plants that were 10 to 22 cm high and flowering. Thirty-five plants were inoculated by placing 1 cm2 pieces of PDA from 7-day-old mycelial cultures near the base of the stem. Twelve control plants were treated with 1 cm2 PDA plugs. Plants were kept at 22 to 24°C, >95% relative humidity, and 12 h of fluorescent light. Wilt symptoms due to basal stem rot appeared 7 days after inoculation, and all the inoculated plants died within 27 days. Control plants remained disease free. The pathogen was reisolated from symptomatic tissues, completing Koch's postulates. To our knowledge, this is the first report of R. solani causing disease on petunia in Argentina.
References: (1) D. M. Benson and D. K. Cartwright. Ornamental diseases incited by Rhizoctonia spp. Pages 303--314 in: Rhizoctonia species: Taxonomy, Molecular Biology, Ecology, Pathology and Disease Control. B. Sneh et al., eds. Kluwer Academic Publishers, London, England, 1996. (2) C. C. Tu and J. W. Kimbrough. Mycologia 65:941, 1973.