P. Martini, Istituto Regionale per la Floricoltura, 18038 Sanremo, Italy;
A. Pane and
F. Raudino, Dipartimento di Scienze e Tecnologie Fitosanitarie, University of Catania, 95123 Catania, Italy; and
S. Scibetta, and
S. O. Cacciola, Dipartimento di Chimica Biologica, Chimica Medica e Biologia Molecolare, University of Catania, 95125 Catania, Italy
Oregano (Origanum vulgare L.; Lamiaceae) is cultivated for culinary and medicinal purposes and as an ornamental. In October of 2007, 1- to 2-year-old potted plants of oregano showed symptoms of decline associated with root and basal stem rot in a nursery in Liguria (northern Italy) that produces 1 million to 1.5 million potted aromatic plants per year. Aboveground symptoms included leaf russeting and chlorosis, wilt, defoliation and dieback of twigs, browning of the basal stem, and subsequent collapse of the entire plant. Approximately 80% of the plants died within 30 days after the appearance of the first symptoms on the canopy. Approximately 20% of a stock of 30,000 oregano plants was affected. Stocks of other aromatic species, such as mint, lavender, rosemary, and sage, appeared healthy. A Phytophthora species was consistently isolated from symptomatic stems and roots of oregano plants on BNPRAH selective medium (2). Ten pure cultures were obtained by single-hypha transfers, and the species was identified as Phytophthora tentaculata Kröber & Marwitz by morphological criteria and sequencing of the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region of rDNA using the ITS 4 and ITS 6 universal primers for DNA amplification. Isolates from oregano formed stoloniferous colonies with arachnoid mycelium on potato dextrose agar and had a growth rate of 2 to 3 mm per day at 24°C with optimum, minimum, and maximum temperatures of 24, 8, and 34°C, respectively. Sporangia formed in soil extract solution and were papillate and spherical or ovoid to obpyriform with a length/breadth ratio of 1.3:1. Few sporangia were caducous and all had a short pedicel (<5 μm). Hyphal swellings and chlamydospores were produced in sterile distilled water and corn meal agar, respectively. All isolates were homothallic and produced globose terminal oogonia (mean diameter of 34 μm) with one or occasionally two paragynous, monoclinous, or diclinous antheridia. Amphigynous antheridia were also observed. The sequence of the ITS region of the rDNA (GenBank No. FJ872545) of an isolate from oregano (IMI 395782) showed 99% similarity with sequences of two reference isolates of P. tentaculata (Accession Nos. AF266775 and AY881001). To test for pathogenicity, the exposed root crowns of 10 6-month-old potted plants of oregano were drench inoculated with 10 ml of a suspension of 2 × 104 zoospores/ml of isolate IMI 395782. Sterile water was pipetted onto the roots of 10 control plants. All plants were maintained in 100% humidity at 22 to 24°C in a greenhouse under natural light and watered once a week. Within 3 weeks after inoculation, all inoculated plants developed symptoms identical to those observed in the nursery and died within 30 to 40 days after the appearance of the first symptoms. Control plants remained healthy. P. tentaculata was reisolated solely from symptomatic plants. P. tentaculata has been reported previously on several herbaceous ornamental plants (1,3). However, to our knowledge, this is the first report of this species on O. vulgare. Root and basal stem rot caused by P. tentaculata is the most serious soilborne disease of oregano reported in Italy so far.
References: (1) G. Cristinzio et al. Inf. Fitopatol. 2:28, 2006. (2) D. C. Erwin and O. K. Ribeiro. Phytophthora Diseases Worldwide. The American Phytopathological Society, St. Paul, MN, 1996. (3) H. Kröber and R. Marwitz. Z. Pflanzenkr. Pflanzenschutz 100:250, 1993.