Sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum L.) is an important medicinal and aromatic plant in Hungary that is cultivated over a large area. During field surveys conducted in 2010, significant incidence of downy mildew was observed in two plant stands at Budapest-Soroksár and Tordas. In 2003, the disease occurred in a greenhouse at Albertirsa as well. By the end of September, on full-grown leaves of two sweet basil cultivars, the frequency of disease occurrence and the percentage of infected leaf area reached 80 to 90% and 17 to 20%, respectively, at Budapest-Soroksár. Symptoms appeared mainly on cvs. Genovese and Milita among others. On leaves, large chlorotic lesions with soft margins developed, followed by necrotization from the middle. Chlorosis often involved the entire leaf surface. Necrotic spots were irregular, variable in diameter, and limited by the main veins. A typical grayish white furry growth could be observed mainly on abaxial leaf surfaces both in chlorotic and necrotic regions. Most abundant growth developed on the leaves of cv. Genovese. Premature leaf fall on diseased plants occurred as well. The fungus was identified as Peronospora belbahrii Thines on the basis of morphological investigation suggested by Thines et al. (4). Sporangiophores were colorless with a long, straight trunk and monopodially branched five to seven times with a length of 416 to 784 μm (average 572 μm). Sporangiophores ended with two slightly curved acute branchlets, the longer one measured 12.5 to 25.0 μm (average 17.1 μm) and the shorter one measured 5.0 to 18.8 μm (average 9.5 μm) long. Ratio of longer to shorter branchlets was 0.7 to 3.0, the average ratio was 1.9. Sporangia were rounded or slightly ovoid, olive to dark brown, and measured 29.3 × 25.6 (23.8 to35.0 × 20.0 to 31.3 μm). Length/width ratio was 1.2 (1.0 to 1.4). Molecular investigation of two isolates was performed. DNA extraction from sporangiophores was followed by PCR using ITS5 and ITS4 primers. The obtained sequence (GenBank Accession No. HQ702191) showed 99.8 to 100.0% similarity with sequences of P. belbahrii (e.g., Accession Nos. FJ394335 and HN462241) and Peronospora sp. (e.g., Accession Nos. AY884605, AY919301, and FJ346561) isolated from sweet basil. In Europe, the disease was reported from Italy (2), France (3), Germany (4), and Switzerland (1). To our knowledge, this is the first report of downy mildew on sweet basil in Hungary.
References: (1) L. Belbahri et al. Mycol. Res. 109:1276, 2005. (2) A. Garibaldi et al. Plant Dis. 88:312, 2004. (3) A. Garibaldi et al. Plant Dis. 89:683, 2005. (4) M. Thines et al. Mycol. Res. 113:532, 2009.