V. Guarnaccia, and
A. Vitale, Dipartimento di Scienze e Tecnologie Fitosanitarie, University of Catania, Via S. Sofia 100, 95123 Catania, Italy; and
G. Perrone and
G. Stea, Istituto di Scienze delle Produzioni Alimentari (ISPA), Via Amendola 122/O, 70126 Bari, Italy
Paper flower (Bougainvillea glabra Choisy), native to Brazil, is the most widely and intensively cultivated species of bougainvillea as a potted plant in Sicily (Italy). During 2008 and 2009, a wilting of vegetatively produced B. glabra cv. Sanderiana was observed in several nurseries in eastern Sicily (Catania and Messina provinces). Disease incidence was higher (~10 to 30%) in the tree-shaped potted plants (standards). Occasionally, wilting was detected on plants that were not tree shaped. Internally, symptomatic plants showed conspicuous vascular orange discoloration from the crown to the canopy. Diseased crown and stem tissues were surface disinfested for 30 s in 1% NaOCl, rinsed in sterile water, plated on potato dextrose agar (PDA) amended with 100 mg/liter of streptomycin sulfate, and incubated at 25°C. A Fusarium sp. was consistently isolated from affected plant tissue. Colonies with light purple or purple mycelia and violet reverse colony colors developed after 10 days. On carnation leaf agar, single-spore isolates produced microconidia in false heads on short monophialides, macroconidia that were 3-septate with a pedicellate base, and solitary and double-celled or aggregate chlamydospores. A PCR assay was conducted on two representative strains (DISTEF-BGS1 and DISTEF-BGS2) by analyzing sequences of the parzial translation elongation factor alpha gene (TEF-1α) and CaM gene (coding calmodulin protein). The primers used are previously used by O'Donnell et al. (1,2). Calmodulin sequences of BGS1 and BGS2 strains (GenBank Nos. FN645740 and FN645741, respectively) exhibited 99% homology with Fusarium oxysporum strain ITEM 2367 (GenBank No. AJ560774), and have homology of 99.6% between them. TEF-1 gene sequences of BGS1 (GenBank No. FN645739) exhibited an identity of 100% to F. oxysporum f. sp. lycopersici MUCL 22544 GenBank No. EF056785.1) and TEF-1α gene sequences of BGS2 (GenBank No. FN655742) exhibited an identity of 100% to F. oxysporum strain NRRL 45954 (GenBank No. FJ985431.1), whereas the homology between the two strains is 98.5%. Both PCR approaches established the identity of the isolates to the F. oxysporum Schlechtend:Fr (1,2). Pathogenicity tests were performed by placing 1-cm2 plugs of PDA from 10-day-old mycelial cultures near the crown on 40 potted, healthy, 6-month-old cuttings of paper flower. Twenty plants for each isolate were used. The same number of plants served as noninoculated controls. All plants were enclosed for 5 days in plastic bags and placed in a growth chamber at 24 ± 1°C. Plants were then moved to a greenhouse where temperatures ranged from 24 to 26°C. Symptoms identical to those observed in nurseries developed 1 month after inoculation with both strains. Crown and stem orange discoloration was detected in all inoculated plants after 2 months. Control plants remained symptomless. F. oxysporum was consistently reisolated from symptomatic tissues and identified as previously described. To our knowledge, F. oxysporum was previously reported on paper flower in Ghana (3). However, this is the first demonstration of the pathogenicity of F. oxysporum on paper flower and it is the first report in Europe of the disease. The presence of Fusarium wilt in Sicily is a potential threat to paper flower production in nurseries.
References: (1) K. O'Donnell et al. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 95:2044, 1998. (2) K. O'Donnell et al. Mycoscience 41:61, 2000. (3) P. Spaulding. USDA Agric. Handb. 197:1, 1961.