The genus Scilla (Hyacinthaceae) includes more than 50 species of perennial, flowering bulbs grown in landscapes worldwide. In December 2000 and May 2009, an unknown leaf spot disease on Scilla peruviana was submitted to the California Department of Food and Agriculture Plant Pest Diagnostic Lab. Samples were collected during routine phytosanitary inspections of production fields in Santa Cruz County in 2000 and Monterey County in 2009. The disease was detected before plants flowered in one field at each location each year and appeared to have a scattered distribution. Foliar spots were large, elliptical to oblong with grayish black centers and brown margins. Yellow halos surrounded many of the spots. Examination of the bulb material revealed small necrotic patches on the outer bulb scales. A rapidly growing fungus was isolated on one-half-strength acidified potato dextrose agar (APDA) from the sporulating leaf spots and necrotic patches on the bulbs. The colonies were greenish gray and became dark olivaceous with age. Dictyospores, which formed on simple to branched, geniculate conidiophores, were oblong, fusiform or obclavate and usually had a triangular apical cell. They were initially hyaline, turning olivaceous brown with age. Conidia measured 14 to 39 × 8 to 13 μm (average 24.6 × 9.9 μm) typically with two to four (but up to seven) thick, transverse septa and one to two longitudinal septa. Morphologically, the fungus matched the description of Embellisia hyacinthi de Hoog & Miller (1,3). To confirm pathogenicity, four leaves of four S. peruviana plants were inoculated by taking colonized mycelial plugs from 2-week-old cultures and placing them in a plastic screw-cap lid filled with sterile water. The water plus mycelial plug suspension in the lid was then clipped to the adaxial side of a pushpin-wounded leaf (4). Plants were placed in a dark dew chamber at 20°C for 48 h and then moved to a growth chamber at 20°C with a 12-h photoperiod. After 48 h, the clips, caps, and plugs were removed. An equal number of control plants were wounded and mock inoculated with noncolonized APDA agar plugs and the experiment was repeated. Leaf lesions were visible 3 days after clip removal and expanded to an average of 26 × 10 mm, 14 days after inoculation. Sporulation was observed in the lesions after 5 to 7 days and the fungus was isolated from all inoculated leaves. No symptoms developed on the control leaves. DNA sequencing of the internal transcribed spacer region of the isolate (GenBank Accession No. HQ425562) using primers ITS1 and ITS4 matched the identity of E. hyacinthi (2,4). E. hyacinthi has been reported as a foliar and bulb pathogen on Hyacinthus, Freesia, and Scilla in Japan and Europe including Great Britain. Bulbs infected with E. hyacinthi are generally less sound and less valuable than noninfected bulbs (1). To our knowledge, this is the first report of the disease on S. peruviana in California.
References: (1) G. S. de Hoog and P. J. Muller. Neth. J. Plant Pathol. 79:85, 1973. (2) B. Pryor and D. M. Bigelow. Mycologia 95:1141, 2003. (3) E. Simmons. Mycotaxon 17:216, 1983. (4) L. E. Yakabe et al. Plant Dis. 93:883, 2009.