Gynura bicolor (Roxb. ex Willd.) DC., known as Okinawa spinach or hong-feng-cai, is a commonly consumed vegetable in Asian countries. In May 2010, plants with blight and wilt symptoms were observed in commercial vegetable farms in Changhua, Taiwan. Light brown-to-black blight lesions developed from the top of the stems to the petioles and extended to the base of the leaves. Severely infected plants declined and eventually died. Disease incidence was approximately 20%. Samples of symptomatic tissues were surface sterilized in 0.6% NaOCl and plated on water agar. A Phytophthora sp. was consistently isolated and further plated on 10% unclarified V8 juice agar, with daily radial growths of 7.6, 8.6, 5.7, and 2.4 mm at 25, 30, 35, and 37°C, respectively. Four replicates were measured for each temperature. No hyphal growth was observed at 39°C. Intercalary hyphal swellings and proliferating sporangia were produced in culture plates flooded with sterile distilled water. Sporangia were nonpapillate, obpyriform to ellipsoid, base tapered or rounded, and 43.3 (27.5 to 59.3) × 27.6 (18.5 to 36.3) μm. Clamydospores and oospores were not observed. Oospores were present in dual cultures with an isolate of P. nicotianae (p731) (1) A2 mating type, indicating that the isolate was heterothallic. A portion of the internal transcribed spacer sequence was deposited in GenBank (Accession No. HQ717146). The sequence was 99% identical to that of P. drechsleri SCRP232 (ATCC46724) (3), a type isolate of the species. The pathogen was identified as P. drechsleri Tucker based on temperature growth, morphological characteristics, and ITS sequence homology (3). To evaluate pathogenicity, the isolated P. drechsleri was inoculated on greenhouse-potted G. bicolor plants. Inoculum was obtained by grinding two dishes of the pathogen cultured on potato dextrose agar (PDA) with sterile distilled water in a blender. After filtering through a gauze layer, the filtrate was aliquoted to 240 ml. The inoculum (approximately 180 sporangia/ml) was sprayed on 24 plants of G. bicolor. An equal number of plants treated with sterile PDA processed in the same way served as controls. After 1 week, incubation at an average temperature of 29°C, blight and wilt symptoms similar to those observed in the fields appeared on 12 inoculated plants. The pathogen was reisolated from the lesions of diseased stems and leaves, fulfilling Koch's postulates. The controls remained symptomless. The pathogenicity test was repeated once with similar results. G. bicolor in Taiwan has been recorded to be infected by P. cryptogea (1,2), a species that resembles P. drechsleri. The recorded isolates of P. cryptogea did not have a maximal growth temperature at or above 35°C (1,2), a distinctive characteristic to discriminate between the two species (3). To our knowledge, this is the first report of P. drechsleri being associated with stem and foliar blight of G. bicolor.
References: (1) P. J. Ann. Plant Pathol. Bull. 5:146, 1996. (2) H. H. Ho et al. The Genus Phytophthora in Taiwan. Institute of Botany, Academia Sinica, Taipei, 1995. (3) R. Mostowfizadeh-Ghalamfarsa et al. Fungal Biol. 114:325, 2010.