A. J. Caesar and
R. T. Lartey, USDA/ARS Northern Plains Agricultural Research Lab, Sidney, MT;
D. K. Berner, USDA/ARS, Foreign Disease-Weed Science Research Unit, Fort Detrick, MD; and
T. Souissi, Institut National Agronomique de Tunisie, Laboratoire de Botanique and Malherbiologie, 43, Avenue Charles Nicolle, 1082 Tunis-Mahrajène, Tunisia
The herbaceous perennial Lepidium draba L. is an invasive weed of rangelands and riparian areas in North America and Australia. As of 2002, it had infested 40,500 ha of rangeland in Oregon and large areas in Wyoming and Utah. Little is known of plant pathogens occurring on L. draba, especially in the United States, that could be useful for biological control of the weed. Leaf spots were first noted on a stand of L. draba near Shepherd, MT in 1997. The spots were mostly circular but sometimes irregularly shaped and whitish to pale yellow. The pathogen was erroneously assumed to be Cercospora beticola since its morphological traits closely resembled that species and the area had large fields of sugar beet with heavy Cercospora leaf spot incidence. Diseased leaves of L. draba were collected in 1997 and 2007. Conidia, borne singly on dark gray, unbranched conidiophores produced on dark stromata late in the season, were elongate, hyaline, multiseptate, 38 to 120 × 2 to 6 μm (mostly 38 to 50 × 2 to 5 μm) and had bluntly rounded tips and wider, truncate bases. These characteristics were consistent with the description of C. bizzozeriana Saccardo & Berlese (2). To isolate the fungus, spores were picked from fascicles of conidiophores with a fine-tipped glass rod, suspended in sterile water, and spread on plates of water agar. Germinated spores were transferred to potato dextrose agar (PDA). The ITS1, 5.8S, and ITS2 sequences of this fungus (GenBank Accession No. EU887131) were identical to sequences of an isolate of C. bizzozeriana from Tunisia (GenBank Accession No. DQ370428). However, these sequences were also identical to those of a number of Cercospora spp. in GenBank, including C. beticola. We also compared the actin gene sequences of the Montana isolate of C. bizzozeriana (GenBank Accession No. FJ205397) and an isolate of C. beticola from Montana (GenBank Accession No. AF443281); the sequences were 94.6% similar, an appreciable difference. For pathogenicity tests, cultures were grown on carrot leaf decoction agar. Aqueous suspensions of 104 spores per ml from cultures were sprayed on 6-week-old L. draba plants. Plants were covered with plastic bags and placed on the greenhouse bench at 20 to 25°C for 96 h. Koch's postulates were completed by reisolating the fungus from the circular leaf spots that appeared within 10 days, usually on lower leaves. Spores of C. bizzozeriana were also sprayed on seedlings of sugar beet, collard, mustard, radish, cabbage, and kale under conditions identical to those above. No symptoms occurred. After the discovery of the disease in 1997, plants of L. draba in eastern Montana, Wyoming, and Utah were surveyed from 1998 to 2003 for similar symptoms and signs, but none were found. This, to our knowledge, is the first report of C. bizzozeriana in the United States. The initial report of the fungus in North America was from Manitoba in 1938 (1). It has recently been reported as occurring on L. draba in Tunisia (4) and Russia (3) and is reported as common in Europe (2). A voucher specimen has been deposited with the U.S. National Fungus Collections (BPI No. 878750A).
References: (1) G. R. Bisby. The Fungi of Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Natl. Res. Council of Canada, Ottawa, 1938. (2) C. Chupp. A Monograph of the Fungus Genus Cercospora. C. Chupp, Ithaca, NY, 1953. (3) Z. Mukhina et al. Plant Dis. 92:316, 2008. (4) T. Souissi et al. Plant Dis. 89:206, 2005.