Felicia amelloides (Asteraceae family), also known as blue marguerite, is cultivated as a potted plant in Italy and increasingly used for ornamental purposes. In winter 2002, plants grown outdoors in 14-cm-diameter pots (2 liters) in commercial farms near Albenga (northern Italy) showed leaf yellowing. At the soil level, soft and watery tissues covered with whitish mycelium were evident. Later, dark brown sclerotia differentiated from the mycelium. As necrosis progressed, infected plants wilted and died. Sclerotinia sclerotiorum (1) was consistently recovered from infected stem pieces of F. amelloides that were disinfested for 1 min in 1% NaOCl and plated on potato dextrose agar (PDA) amended with 100 ppm of streptomycin sulfate. Sclerotia produced on PDA were ellipsoid and measured 1.3 to 6.1 × 1.1 to 3.3 mm (average 2.9 × 2.3 mm) (2). Pathogenicity of three isolates (used as a mixture and obtained from infected plants from the same farm) was confirmed by inoculating 90-day-old plants grown in 14-cm-diameter pots. Inoculum that consisted of wheat kernels infested with mycelium and sclerotia of each isolate was placed on the soil surface around the base of each of 20 plants. Ten noninoculated plants served as controls. The inoculation trial was repeated. All plants were kept outdoors at temperatures ranging between 5 and 26°C and watered as needed. All inoculated plants developed symptoms of leaf yellowing, followed by the appearance of white mycelium within 15 days, and then eventually wilted. Control plants remained symptomless. White mycelium and sclerotia developed on infected tissues, and S. sclerotiorum was reisolated from inoculated plants. To our knowledge, this is the first report of white mold of F. amelloides caused by S. sclerotiorum in Italy as well as elsewhere in the world.
References: (1) N. F. Buchwald. Den. Kgl. Veterin.er-og Landbohojskoles Aarsskrift, 32:75, 1949. (2) C. M. Messiaen et al. Les Maladies des Plantes Maraichères. INRA, Paris, 1991.