Laurustinus (Viburnum tinus L.), native to the Mediterranean Region, is an evergreen shrub commonly used as a specimen shrub or small tree or used in border plantings. During August 2003, a blight occurred on 2-year-old-plants of laurustinus growing in pots in a nursery in eastern Sicily (Italy). Disease incidence ranged from 2 to 5% across the field. Symptoms included 3 to 4 cm long lesions and the development of white mycelial strands and brown, 1.0 to 1.8 mm, nearly spherical sclerotia on the crown of plants at the soil line that are typical of Sclerotium rolfsii Sacc. The foliage of infected plants wilted, followed by a sudden collapse of the plant. The fungus was consistently isolated on acidified potato dextrose agar (PDA) (pH 4.5) by plating symptomatic tissues that were surface disinfested (1.2% NaOCl) for 1 min. and rinsed in sterile water. Pathogenicity tests were performed by sprinkling 50 sclerotia, obtained from infected oat kernels (2), on the soil surface around the collar of each of 10 healthy, potted 1-year-old plants of laurustinus. Five of the plants were previously wounded on the crown 1.5 cm above or below the soil line with a sterile needle. Five noninoculated plants served as controls. All plants were maintained at 25 ± 2°C and enclosed for 72 hr in polyethylene bags (90 to 95% relative humidity). Blight symptoms similar to those seen in nursery were observed on inoculated plants 20 to 25 days after inoculation, while no symptoms developed on control plants. Koch's postulates were fulfilled by reisolation of the fungus on acidified PDA from all infected laurustinus plants. S. rolfsii was previously recorded on Prague viburnum (Viburnum × pragense L.) as the causal agent of southern blight (1). To our knowledge, this is the first report of southern blight caused by S. rolfsii on laurustinus.
References: (1) A. Hagan. Southern blight on flowers, shrubs, and trees. On-line publication ANR-1157. Alabama A & M, and Auburn University (www.aces.edu/dept/extcomm/publications/html). (2) R. Rodriguez-Kabana et al. Plant Dis. Rep. 59:5, 1975.