Salvia scabra Thunb. is grown and used on the Italian Riviera as a potted plant and used in gardens. During the spring of 2003, severe outbreaks of a previously unknown powdery mildew were observed in a collection of Salvia spp. maintained at an experimental station at Albenga (northern Italy). Powdery mildew was observed only on S. scabra. Leaves were covered with white exophytic mycelia on both surfaces. As the disease progressed, infected leaves turned yellow and died. Conidia were single, hyaline, cylindric, and measured 21.3 to 35.5 × 12.5 to 22.5 μm (average 28.2 × 18.4 μm). Observations made with a light microscope revealed that foot cells were cylindric and appressoria lobed. Cleistothecia were not observed. The pathogen was identified as Oidium subgenus Pseudoidium (1,2), and pathogenicity was confirmed by gently pressing diseased leaves onto mature leaves of healthy, 40-day-old S. scabra plants. Five plants of S. scabra were used as replicates. Noninoculated plants served as controls. Inoculated and noninoculated plants were maintained in a growth chamber at 20°C. After 5 days, typical symptoms of powdery mildew developed on inoculated plants. Noninoculated plants did not show symptoms. To our knowledge, this is the first report of the presence of powdery mildew on S. scabra in Italy as well as in the world. Erysiphe polygoni DC. (Oidium subgenus Pseudoidium) and E. cichoracearum DC. (Oidium subgen us Reticuloidium) were previously reported as causal agents of powdery mildew on other species of Salvia (S. officinalis and S. sclarea) (3,4). Specimens of this disease are available at the DIVAPRA Collection at the University of Torino.
References: (1) R. Belanger et al., eds. The Powdery Mildew A Comprehensive Treatise. The American Phytopathological Society, St Paul, MN, 2002. (2) U. Braun. Nova Hedwigia. 89:700, 1987. (3) D. F. Farr et al. Fungi on Plants and Plant Products in the United States. The American Phytopathological Society, St Paul, MN, 1989. (4) A. Pisi and M. G. Bellardi. Inf. Fitopatol. 48(10):57, 1998.