P. Pensa, and
M. L. Gullino, Centre of Competence AGROINNOVA, University of Torino, Via Leonardo da Vinci 44, 10095 Grugliasco, Italy
Petunia × hybrida (Solanaceae) includes several hybrids that are grown as ornamental plants and are very much appreciated for their long-lasting flowering period. During the spring of 2009, extensive wilting was observed on 2-month-old potted plants of Petunia × hybrida cv. Sanguna Lilac Vein grown in a commercial glasshouse near Albenga (northern Italy). First symptoms included stem necrosis and darkening and withering of leaves. Wilt occurred a few days after the appearance of the first symptoms. Infected plants were characterized by the presence of soft, watery tissues. In the presence of high relative humidity, lesions became covered with a whitish mycelium and irregular, dark gray sclerotia (3.0 to 6.5 × 2.0 to 5.0 mm, average 4.8 × 3.3 mm) were produced on the mycelium. Diseased tissue was surface sterilized for 1 min in 1% NaOCl and plated on potato dextrose agar (PDA) amended with 100 mg/l of streptomycin sulfate. Sclerotinia sclerotiorum (Lib.) de Bary (3) was consistently recovered from infected stem pieces. Sclerotia produced on PDA measured 2.0 to 6.0 × 1.5 to 5.0 mm (average 3.9 × 3.1) mm. The internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region of rDNA was amplified with primers ITS4/ITS6 and sequenced. BLAST analysis (1) of the 548-bp segment showed a 100% homology with the sequence of S. sclerotiorum. The nucleotide sequence has been assigned GenBank Accession No. GQ375746. Pathogenicity of one isolate obtained from sclerotia of infected plants was confirmed by inoculating three 90-day-old plants belonging to cv. Sanguna Lilac Vein transplanted in 22-cm-diameter pots in a glasshouse in a sphagnum peat/pomix/pine bark/clay (50:20:20:10) mix. Inoculum that consisted of 2 g/liter of substrate of wheat kernels infested with mycelium and sclerotia was placed in the soil and around the base of each plant. Three noninoculated plants served as controls. Plants were maintained in greenhouse at temperatures ranging between 22 and 26°C and relative humidity >90%. The inoculation trial was carried out twice. All inoculated plants developed leaf yellowing by 20 days after soil infestation. White, cottony mycelium and dark sclerotia developed on stems and at the base of all inoculated plants. Eventually, infected plants wilted. Control plants remained symptomless. S. sclerotiorum was reisolated from the stems of inoculated plants. To our knowledge, this is the first report of S. sclerotiorum on Petunia × hybrida in Italy. The disease has been previously reported on Petunia × hybrida in Bermuda (2) and the United States (4).
References: (1) S. F. Altschul et al. Nucleic Acids Res. 25:3389, 1997 (2) R. M. Brien. N.Z. J. Sci. Tech., A, 24, 62, 1942. (3) N. F. Buchwald. Kongl. Veterisk Landb. Aarssk. 75, 1949. (4) D. F. Farr et al. Fungi on Plants and Plant Products in the United States. The American Phytopathological Society, St. Paul, MN, 1989.