Hosta fortunei (Liliaceae) is used in semishaded areas of gardens for its lavender-colored flowers produced in midsummer. In April of 2008, in a greenhouse at the University of Torino, located in Grugliasco (northern Italy), a leaf blight was observed on 15% of potted 60-day-old plants growing at temperatures ranging between 20 and 25°C and relative humidity of 60 to 90%. Semicircular, water-soaked lesions developed on leaves just above the soil line at the leaf-petiole junction and later along leaf margins. Lesions expanded for several days along the midvein until the entire leaf was destroyed. Blighted leaves turned brown, withered, and clung to the shoots. Severely infected plants died. Diseased tissue was disinfested for 10 s in 1% NaOCl, rinsed with sterile water, and plated on potato dextrose agar (PDA) amended with 25 mg/liter streptomycin sulfate. A fungus with the morphological characters of Rhizoctonia solani (4) was consistently recovered, then transferred and maintained in pure culture. Ten-day-old mycelium grown on PDA at 22 ± 1°C appeared light brown, rather compact, and had radial growth. Sclerotia were not present. Isolates of R. solani obtained from affected plants were successfully anastomosed with tester isolate AG 4 (AG 4 RT 31 obtained from tobacco plants). Results were consistent with other reports on anastomosis reactions (2). Pairings were also made with tester isolates of AG 1, 2.1, 2.2, 3, 6, 7, 11, and BI, but no anastomosis was observed. The internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region of rDNA was amplified using primers ITS4/ITS6 and sequenced. BLASTn analysis (1) of the 646-bp fragment showed a 100% homology with the sequence of R. solani AG-4 AB000018. The nucleotide sequence has been assigned GenBank Accession No. FJ 534556. For pathogenicity tests, the inoculum of R. solani was prepared by growing the pathogen on PDA for 10 days. Six-month-old plants of H. fortunei were grown in 1-liter pots. Inoculum, which consisted of an aqueous suspension of PDA and mycelium disks (10 g of mycelium per pot), was placed at the collar of plants. Plants inoculated with water and PDA fragments alone served as control treatments. Five plants per treatment were used. Plants were maintained in a growth chamber at 20 ± 1°C. The first symptoms, similar to those observed in the nursery, developed 15 days after inoculation. R. solani was consistently reisolated from infected leaves and stems. Control plants remained healthy. The pathogenicity test was carried out twice with similar results. R. solani was reported on plants belonging to the genus Hosta in the United States (3). This is, to our knowledge, the first report of leaf blight of H. fortunei caused by R. solani in Italy as well as in Europe.
References: (1) S. F. Altschul et al. Nucleic Acids Res. 25:3389, 1997. (2) D. E. Carling. Grouping in Rhizoctonia solani by hyphal anastomosis reactions. In: Rhizoctonia Species: Taxonomy, Molecular Biology, Ecology, Pathology and Disease Control. Kluwer Academic Publishers, The Netherlands, 1996. (3) D. F. Farr et al. Fungi on Plants and Products in the United States. The American Phytopathology Society, St Paul, MN, 1989. (4) B. Sneh et al. Identification of Rhizoctonia species. The American Phytopathological Society, St Paul, MN, 1991.